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Nabokov makes 31 saves

2/28/2004

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- The San Jose Sharks know if they're
going to compete for the top spot in the Western Conference they'll
have to step up their effort.

Patrick Marleau had a goal and an assist Friday night to lead
the Sharks to a 4-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"We are still in the race for that first spot," said Evgeni
Nabokov, who made 31 saves. "We are four from first place. We have
to look up top, but we have to not think too far ahead of us. We
want to work harder, now that it is March."

The Sharks (79 points) are tied with Vancouver and trail Detroit
by four points and Colorado by two in the West.

"We have to keep pace and keep up -- not so much look behind but
keep looking ahead," Marleau said. "We just have to win games and
get points."

Pittsburgh lost for the 18th time in 20 games and became the
first team to be officially eliminated from playoff contention.

"Officially, I think we were eliminated a long time ago,"
Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "We're in a rebuilding
process and everyone knew what was going to happened once the
season started to go that way."

Brad Stuart, Tom Preissing and Alexander Korolyuk all scored for
San Jose, which improved to 8-1-1 over their last 10.

Konstantin Koltsov and Milan Kraft scored for the Penguins in
the third period.

Stuart opened the scoring with a power-play goal at 13:30 of the
first period. Stuart took a cross-ice pass from Niko Dimitakos and
shot the puck over Penguins rookie goalie Andy Chidio's right
shoulder. It was Stuart's fifth goal of the season.

San Jose increased its lead in the second period when Marleau
scored his 27th of the season with 7:21 left.

Preissing scored a power-play goal on a one-timer from Marleau
for his second of the year to make it 3-1 at 10:25 of the third
period. Korolyuk put in a rebound for his 10th of the season at
14:13.

Chidio made 26 saves in just his fourth NHL game. He was the
winning goalie for the Penguins on Wednesday night when they broke
their 18-game winless streak with 4-3 win over Phoenix.

The Sharks went 2-for-6 on the power play while Pittsburgh was
0-for-2.

San Jose placed defenseman Mike Ricci on the injured list before
the game. Ricci strained his right shoulder in Thursday's night's
game against Vancouver. He will be out a week.

Game notes
San Jose called up Jim Fahey from the Cleveland Barons of
the AHL. ... The Penguins have been outscored 82-39 in the first
period this season. ... Vincent Damphousse became the Sharks
all-time leader in consecutive games played with 229, breaking
Ricci's record of 228 set in 2000. ... Pittsburgh is 3-22-0-1 in
2004. ... Since October 30, the Sharks are 30-11-8-6.