Sharks bite into Russians

By STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency



VANCOUVER — The Sharks were circling the frozen water Wednesday night at Canada Hockey Place.

The tone and outcome of the quarterfinal game between Canada and Russia was largely decided in the first period by the four members of the San Jose Sharks, defenceman Dan Boyle, and forwards Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau for Canada and goaltender Evgeni Nabokov for Russia.

The four Canadian Sharks combined for five points in the opening 20 minutes, with Boyle recording a goal and two assists.

Actually, Thornton — who has played with his two San Jose linemates, Marleau and Heatley, the entire tournament — didn’t a record a point and of all the Sharks, is having the least effective Olympics. In five games, he has a goal and one assist.

Boyle has had a wonderful Games, with a goal and five assists.

Nabokov let in four goals in the opening frame, but only one could have been considered weak. Canada’s fourth goal, by Brendan Morrow, came when the Canadian forward took a pass behind the net and walked in front of the Russian goaltender unmolested, before backhanding a shot off Nabokov’s stick for a 4-1 lead.

But Nabokov also made some huge saves in the first, including a glove stop on Rick Nash early in the frame and then robbed Nash a second time when he kicked his leg out after a tick-tack-toe passing play late in the period. Canada outshot Russia 21-12 in thje first period.

However, Nabokov’s time expired at 4:07 of the second period when he was beat from just inside the blueline by Canadian defenceman Shea Weber, and replaced by Ilya Bryzgalov, who was solid to finish the game out, giving up just one goal.

Canadian goaltender Roberto Luongo didn’t have to make as many big saves, though he robbed Alexander Radulov, who was all alone in front, early in the second, and was steady in the third as Russia tried to get back in the game. Each time the Vancouver Canucks’ goaltender made a save, the fans at Gm Place screamed “Lou!” With less than five minutes to go in the third, and the Russians on a powerplay, Luongo made a huge kick save on Evgeni Malkin, which almost brought down the house.

Nabokov had been solid in net prior to last night’s game, giving up just two goals in two games with a 91.11 save percentage.

steve.buffery@sunmedia.ca

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