Sharks close in on Presidents' Trophy
Evgeni Nabokov and the NHL-leading San Jose Sharks moved a step closer to their first Presidents' Trophy as the regular-season points champion.
Nabokov made 25 saves for his 40th victory of the season, and Jonathan Cheechoo and Dan Boyle scored in San Jose's 2-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night.
At 51-15-11, San Jose matched the franchise victory record set in 2006-07. Nabokov improved to 40-9-8 and helped the Sharks push their points total to 113 - three more than Eastern Conference leader Boston and six ahead of Detroit.
"We do care about the points, but we care more about the way we play," Nabokov said. "With a lot of guys out of the lineup we have to tidy it up a little bit. We have to be disciplined and that's what we are right now. "
Sam Gagner scored for Edmonton, tied for 10th in the Western Conference. The Oilers have lost three straight and six of their last seven.
"It's disappointing," Gagner said. "The battle level and the intensity were there. The guys were working hard and creating a lot of chances. Obviously at this time it comes down to results though. We aren't out of anything yet and we have to pick ourselves up for the next game."
Cheechoo opened the scoring at 52 seconds of the first period, ducking behind Joe Thornton and using him as a screen on goalie Dwayne Roloson.
Boyle made it 2-0 on a power-play rebound at 8:16 of the second.
"It was a simple road win," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "I don't know that we were at our best. I thought Edmonton threw everything they had us. They came very hard. We had to be very prepared."
Gagner scored on a power play with 1:42 left in the second.
Defenseman Rob Blake and forward Marcel Goc both returned to San Jose's lineup. In their last outing against Calgary, the Sharks were missing nine players due to injury. Among those still on the mend for San Jose are forwards Patrick Marleau and Ryane Clowe. ... Roloson made his 34th consecutive start. ... Sharks center Joe Pavelski extended his scoring streak to seven games with a second-period assist.