Boucher posts shutout in NHL return

(AP) — Brian Boucher‘s first NHL start of the season might make it easier for the San Jose Sharks to give hardworking goalie Evgeni Nabokov a few more days off.

Signed from the AHL’s Philadelphia Phantoms earlier in the week, Boucher made 24 saves to beat the St. Louis Blues 2-0 on Saturday night for San Jose’s fifth straight win.

"Whatever I can do here, I’m thrilled to be back in the NHL," Boucher said. "If I can go in there and give Nabby some rest some nights and they have the confidence to do that, then great.

"If they want to ride him, that’s great, too. I’ll be a support system."

Coach Ron Wilson said he’d likely lean on Boucher when the Sharks play on consecutive nights and have travel involved. This was such a case, and there are two more back-to-back situations the rest of the season.

"We got some great goaltending early from Brian until we found our bearings," Wilson said. "Then I thought from the second period on we dominated the play pretty much."

Boucher, a former first-round draft pick and member of the NHL’s all-rookie team in 1999-2000, had a 23-16-1 record with a 2.47 goals-against average, a .917 save percentage and four shutouts for the Phantoms this season to earn another chance. He picked up his first NHL win since March 3, 2007, at Phoenix and first NHL shutout since Nov. 12, 2006, against the Blue Jackets.

While Nabokov had a rare night off, Boucher was tested most in the first period, stopping 11 shots.

"What I liked was how calm he was, which is a nice thing to have in a backup goalie," Wilson said. "You would think he’d be a little bit nervous, especially with what each game means to us right now.

"I’d bet you his heart rate never got over 80."