UNIONDALE, N.Y. — The Sharks will face Evgeni Nabokov for the first time since they bid their longtime goaltender good-bye in 2010 on Saturday night when San Jose continues its road trip against the New York Islanders.
The teams have met twice since Nabokov continued his NHL career with the Islanders, but on both occasions he was sidelined by an injury.
"It's been awhile now since Nabby was a Shark," coach Todd McLellan said. "We're all aware — even the young players who didn't play with Nabby — of his history with the hockey club and we're proud of it. In some sense we still feel attached to him, but he is the opposing goalie tonight and we'll do everything we can to try and beat him."
At the other end of the ice will be Antti Niemi, the goalie who ended up inheriting Nabokov's job when he became a free agent and the Sharks decided not to offer him a new contract.
Patrick Marleau, a teammate of Nabokov's said the Sharks would try to have some fun with the goalie who played 563 games for them between 1999 and 2010 and still holds most of San Jose's goaltending records.
But he noted that both sides know the others' tricks, so it's hard to say who might have an advantage.
San Jose will be looking for its fifth consecutive victory and to keep pace with the Anaheim Ducks, who play the Colorado Avalanche later in the evening. The teams are tied at the top of the Pacific Division with 93 points, though the Sharks have played one more game.
"We've worked hard to close the gap, to get to this point and we'd like to continue on," McLellan said. "We don't want to give ourselves permission to take a day off and we're well aware some of the non-playoff teams we've played against, we haven't had success with. We're hoping to change that tonight."