Goalie robs Ilya's spotlight

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:09 AM ET

ATLANTA -- Considering there were 15 goals scored in yesterday's NHL all-star game, it's hard to imagine a goaltender stealing the show.

At least part of it.

Yet, there was Evgeni Nabokov of the San Jose Sharks doing just that in the second period by stoning hometown favourite Ilya Kovalchuk of the Atlanta Thrashers with a pair of scintillating saves.

"I am going to work on my shot in practice," Kovalchuk said with a smile.

He is one of the NHL's top snipers the past few seasons, but Nabokov first robbed him with the trapper before the puck nailed the top corner, which was so good the Thrashers star fell onto his back in disbelief before getting to his feet and offering congratulations. Then, as the period ended, Nabokov did it again by denying Kovalchuk on a breakaway.

"I knew what I was gonna do regardless what he was going to do," said the Sharks netminder. "If he would have picked the top shelf, it would have been a highlight goal and good for him, but I knew exactly what I was going to do."

Nabokov said the glove save was luck, but it wasn't a case of the puck going straight into the trapper.

He ended up with the highlight-reel play.

"They're all saying it's lucky, but you need to be good to be lucky," Kovalchuk said. "Sometimes, you score with everybody, and you're lucky, but you need to be in that kind of position right time and right place to make those kind of saves."

Kovalchuk, easily the most popular player among the crowd, also caught himself in another rare all-star game situation by bodychecking -- although accidentally -- Ed Jovanovski of the Phoenix Coyotes.

"Actually, he tried to kill me," Jovanovski said. "He stopped and everybody circled. Nobody stopped, and then all of a sudden he stops."

Kovalchuk was also part of a Russian Five for a few shifts, when the Eastern Conference iced a line of him with Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin, with Andrei Markov and Sergei Gonchar on defence.

"Don't talk about that," Kovalchuk pleaded. "Two shifts, we're minus-two. It's unbelievable."

ICE CHIPS

Flames mascot Harvey the Hound was in the crowd entertaining and donned an Atlanta Flames sweater in the city where Calgary's NHL team originated.


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