Series (Game 4 of 6)

San Jose leads 4-2

Game 1: Tuesday, October 21st
Game 2: Wednesday, December 10th
Game 3: Saturday, December 13th
Game 4: Sunday, December 21st
Game 5: Monday, December 22nd
Game 6: Friday, March 19th

Sharks 2

(11-9-3, 35 pts)

Ducks 1

(11-13-5, 31 pts)

8:00 PM ET, December 21, 2003

Honda Center, Anaheim, California

1 2 3 T
SJ 1 1 02
ANA 0 1 01

P. Marleau (Sharks - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

S. Fedorov (Ducks - C): Goals: 0, Assists: 0

V. Damphousse (Sharks - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Nabokov stops 24 shots

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- The San Jose Sharks are becoming quite adept at winning low-scoring games. Having Evgeni Nabokov in net doesn't hurt.

Nabokov outdueled playoff MVP Jean-Sebastien Giguere with 24 saves and Niko Dimitrakos set up goals by Patrick Marleau and Vincent Damphousse as the Sharks beat the Anaheim Mighty Ducks 2-1 on Sunday night.

Despite getting at least one power-play goal in each of their last five games, the Sharks have not scored more than twice in any of their last 11 games -- the longest such stretch in franchise history. They are 5-4-2 during that span.

"It's just freaky," coach Ron Wilson said. "We can't seem to score the third goal, but we have a ton a chances to do it. We just seem to be a little snake-bit. But we're comfortable in those situations, it seems. That's what we expect and that's what we prepare for -- a 2-1, 1-0, 3-2 type of game.

"It's not just the goalies who feel the heat, trust me. It's the whole bench. But after a while, you kind of get used to it. And even though we have only two goals, we have the lead -- so there's nothing wrong with that."

Marleau opened the scoring at 11:40 of the first period with his 13th goal and fifth in seven games. He got a pass in the right circle from Dimitrakos and beat Giguere to the stick side with a one-timer from 15 feet.

The Sharks received a two-man advantage less than four minutes into the second period after Michael Holmqvist and Keith Carney were sent off for high-sticking 29 seconds apart. Damphousse beat Giguere with a 20-foot backhander from the left circle for his third goal of the season, just as Holmqvist stepped out of the penalty box.

"I wasn't aware there was one second left, but I knew it was winding down and that somebody was coming back on the ice. I didn't have the time to set up for a good opportunity from a good spot, so I just took the shot," Damphousse said.

Dimitrakos also got an assist on the goal, giving the rookie seven points in his last 14 games.

"Niko's been great, and he's just going to get better," Damphousse said. "When he came back from the minors, he improved his play. As the game goes on he understands the score more, and what kind of plays he can make at different times -- and he's making great plays. He's a good skater, he makes good passes and he's got a good quick shot."

Nabokov, who shut out the Ducks on Dec. 13 at San Jose, gave up Anaheim's only goal just 11 seconds after Damphousse scored. He stopped Niclas Havelid's shot from the left boards, but defenseman Rob Davison couldn't clear the rebound and Petr Sykora jammed the puck under Nabokov's left leg for his 11th of the season. Sykora has scored in seven of his last nine games against San Jose.

"Nabokov's a great goaltender. But at the same time, I don't think we got enough pucks to the net. And when we did, we were letting him see it and there was nobody there for the rebounds," Anaheim forward Jason Krog said. "We weren't hungry enough. We played good at times, but overall, I think the game was pretty much average-to-below average for us."

Giguere, who made 38 saves in Thursday night's 1-0 victory against Colorado, fell to 3-8-0 in 11 career games against San Jose despite stopping 22 shots. He hasn't won consecutive starts since Nov. 9-16, when he won three straight. But no one was blaming him for this loss.

"They played really well defensively and Nabokov was there when he needed to be," Anaheim defenseman Todd Simpson said. "But we've just got to find a way to create more offense and score more goals. Having the lead always helps, too."

Game notes

Anaheim's power play was 0-for-5 against the Sharks, who have allowed only four goals in 58 short-handed situations over their last 15 games. ... Wilson, who coached the Ducks during their first four seasons, is 7-11 against them since then and 2-6 in Anaheim. He gets another crack at them Monday night at San Jose, when the teams face each other for the fourth time in 13 days. ... Anaheim is one of three teams that have not allowed a short-handed goal, along with Philadelphia and Nashville. ... Anaheim LW Vaclav Prospal, playing in his 500th NHL game, got an assist on Sykora's goal.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press