11 January 2012
Uniondale, NY -- Evgeni Nabokov moved one step closer to reaching his 300th career NHL victory Tuesday night, when he backstopped his team to a 5-1 win over the Red Wings. In fact the win was his 299th.
Nabokov stopped 23 shots in the win over Detriot and posted a .958 save percentage. At times Nabokov was forced to make some tough saves against the Red Wings. Saves that included a diving save to block a shot from Valtteri Filppula during an early power play opportunity for the Red Wings.
“[Nabokov] was there for us tonight when we needed him,” Islanders head coach Jack Capuano said after the game. “He gave us a chance to win that game. Especially there in the first with a couple key saves.”
Islanders forward Kyle Okposo added, “he stood on his head. He made some great saves and that one goal that got by him was a high tip, tough play to stop, and other than that he was perfect.”
In his inaugural season as an Islander Nabokov has had an up and down year. Having to fight for ice time in the beginning of the year, due to a three-man goaltending rotation, and then struggling to get wins when he did start didn’t help. Though he did post solid numbers through his first ten starts, receiving neither a win nor loss in two appearances, and has been getting the results recently.
Through it all he’s posted a 6-10-0 record in 18 appearances for a 2.66 goals against average and .910 save percentage. Which are good for the second best goaltending stats on the Islanders roster.
Due to injuries to Al Montoya and Rick Dipietro, Nabokov has started the past 10 games for the Islanders. Nabokov said he liked playing a lot when asked about it after the game.
The increased playing time has allowed Nabokov to inch closer to win number 300. Nabokov could potentially reach that milestone at the Nassau Coliseum Thursday night should he start against the Philadelphia Flyers. However the Islanders recently called up Kevin Poulin and he’s expected to get some playing time in order to give Nabokov a rest. And after the game there was some indication that Nabokov’s rest may just come next game.
“He’s played a lot of hockey,” Capuano said when asked if Nabokov will go against the Flyers. “That’s something that we’ll talk to our goalie coach and our coaches and reevaluate that tonight after the game and go from there.”
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