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Evgeni Nabokov Moves Past Olympic Disappointment

Mar 1, 2010 – 4:21 PM
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Susan Slusser

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Evgeni Nabokov couldn't wait to get back on the ice and practice with the Sharks the past two days. He wants to get Russia's bummer of an Olympics behind him, along with those six goals that Canada scored against him last week.

"I had two days off and rested, then practice has been good," San Jose's goaltender told FanHouse by phone after his team's workout Monday. "I was anxious to get back and practice with the guys."

Yep, just that fast it's back to normal all over the NHL, and the Sharks jump into action with Tuesday night's game against New Jersey and the Devils' band of Olympians, including their goaltender, Canada's Martin Brodeur. But does Nabokov worry there might be any hangover effect, as there occasionally is for goalies who get peppered in all-star games?

"I hope not," Nabokov said. "I always try to put a bad game behind me. I never look past. I look forward."

From Nabokov's perspective, it might be nice if everyone who wants to jump on his poor final game in Vancouver did look back a bit, past that uncharacteristically poor performance against Canada. Nabokov had two shutouts in the 2008 World Championship and he was in net when Russia defeated Canada in the gold medal game.

"They jumped on us very early and never let up. They kept coming and coming and coming. Those early goals made the difference." Still, he'd trade that gold for a shot at one in Vancouver. Nabokov said the hardest thing wasn't getting thumped by eventual winners Canada, it was not making it into the gold medal game. Many had thought that would be the final matchup; Russia had won the past two world championships and Canada had taken it in 2007.

So Nabokov will have the warmest congratulations for his four gold-medal-winning teammates (Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley and Dan Boyle) when they arrive for Tuesday's morning skate, as well as for silver medalist Joe Pavelski, but it will be a little bittersweet.

"Absolutely, I'm happy for them," Nabokov said. "But I just wish we (Russia) could have been there in the final playing in that game. That's what everyone wants."

What went so dreadfully wrong for Russia in that 7-3 loss last Wednesday? It couldn't have been all Nabokov's fault, though it's always easy to point to the goaltender after allowing four goals in the first period.

"They jumped on us very early and never let up," Nabokov said. "They kept coming and coming and coming. Those early goals made the difference."

The second goal was by Sharks teammate Boyle, and the Sharks' line of Marleau/Thornton/Heatley also took plenty of shots at Nabokov. Strange?

"It is but it isn't," he said. "You think before the game about the guys, but once you start the game, you don't think, 'Is that Patty shooting? Is it Boyle?' You just try to make the save."

Russia clearly did not play its best. There were lapses all over the place, poor back-checking and turnovers. The team just looked out of whack.

"I think we were out of sync a little bit, yes," Nabokov said. "It was teamwork, and it was also my fault. As a goalie, you always want to make every key save, even if there's a defensive breakdown.

"You want to make a difference. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to."
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