Published March 03, 2010
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Ilya Kovalchuk scored a power-play goal against Olympic teammate Evgeni Nabokov to cap New Jersey's three-goal second period and the Devils returned from a two-week break by beating the San Jose Sharks 4-3 on Tuesday night.
Dainius Zubrus and Mark Fraser scored goals 35 seconds apart earlier in the second against Nabokov, who played his first game since allowing six goals in less than two periods in Russia's 7-3 loss to Canada in the quarterfinals of the Olympics.
New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur also struggled in his first game since a disappointing final performance at the Olympics. He was benched following Canada's 5-3 loss to the United States in the preliminary round and could only watch as Canada won the gold medal on Sunday with a 3-2 overtime win over the U.S.
Brodeur wasn't tested much early, but was beaten for three third-period goals in a span of 2:46 as the Sharks rallied from a 4-0 deficit.
Devin Setoguchi scored goals less than 2 minutes apart to get the Sharks started and Joe Pavelski added another to make it a one-goal game with 8:28 remaining. New Jersey held on from there.
The game featured 13 Olympians, including eight who were on the teams that played in Sunday's gold medal game. The fans cheered during a video tribute to all the Olympians during a first-period break with a loud ovation for Devils forward Zach Parise, who scored the tying goal in the final minute of regulation for the U.S. in the loss to Canada.
Parise had two assists in this game and his U.S. Olympic teammate Jamie Langenbrunner also assisted on Travis Zajac's goal that made it 4-0 in the third period.
The biggest cheer came for the five medalists on the Sharks — silver medalist Pavelski and Canadians Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley, Patrick Marleau and Dan Boyle.
There was little else to cheer about in the first two periods for the sold-out crowd in the Sharks' first home game in exactly a month. San Jose was on a six-game road trip before taking off for the Olympic break. Thornton hit the goal post on the opening shift. That proved to be the Sharks' best chance until the third-period barrage.
The Devils broke through a sluggish game midway through the second period when Patrick Elias' shot trickled past Nabokov and sat in the goal crease before Zubrus knocked it in for the first goal of the game.
Fraser beat Nabokov with a slap shot from the blue line that went through a screen just 35 seconds later to make it 2-0.
New Jersey added a third goal in the final minute of the period just 6 seconds after Manny Malhotra went to the penalty box for hooking Elias. The Devils won the ensuing faceoff and Kovalchuk beat Nabokov with a wrist shot for his 33rd goal of the season and second since joining the Devils following a trade from Atlanta last month.
Nabokov did stop Kovalchuk on a breakaway in the third period to keep it a one-goal game.
NOTES: The Sharks placed D Marc-Edouard Vlasic on injured reserve before the game with a lower body injury. ... This was the only meeting of the season between the teams. ... San Jose D Niclas Wallin made his home debut with the Sharks after being acquired in a trade from Carolina during the pre-Olympic road trip.