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Nabokov backstops Sharks to victory

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Associated Press
11/8/2006 1:26:31 AM

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - Joe Thornton scored his first goal at home this season and Evgeni Nabokov made 22 saves in the San Jose Sharks' 3-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night.

Patrick Marleau and Mike Grier also scored for the Sharks, who avenged a decisive 4-1 loss to Minnesota last month with two early goals followed by two periods of strong defence. Nabokov was outstanding in just his second win in five starts, snapping the Wild's four-game winning streak at the Shark Tank.

Todd White scored and Manny Fernandez stopped 27 shots for Minnesota in the opener of a five-game road trip after playing just four games away from St. Paul all season. The Wild have lost three of four after a 9-1 start, including their first back-to-back defeats of the season.

Sharks coach Ron Wilson, dissatisfied with his high-scoring club's 5-on-5 play, broke up his top line around Thornton, putting Mark Bell on Marleau's line and dispatching Jonathan Cheechoo - the NHL's top goal-scorer last season - to the third line. The move didn't end Cheechoo's goal drought, which reached seven games.

After Grier's early goal, Thornton got just his third goal in 16 games this season - and his first in eight home games - when he redirected rookie Matt Carle's shot past Fernandez midway through the first period. White answered for the Wild when he was left alone in front of Nabokov.

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Mike Grier rules. He can make something outta nothing.

I was sad to see him leave Buffalo, but glad to see where he ended up.
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