It didn’t take long for rookie netminder Alex Stalock to make an impact at the NHL level. He was a key contributor to the San Jose Sharks‘ recent six-game winning streak which ended Monday night in a 1-0 loss to the rival Los Angeles Kings. During the team’s hot streak, Stalock appeared in two games and posted back-to-back shutouts against the Florida Panthers and the Winnipeg Jets.
It was the beginning of a new streak, and it led to the eventual breaking of a record previously held by the greatest goaltender in Sharks history.
In 2009, Evgeni Nabokov, who began his NHL career with San Jose in 1999, played 170 minutes and 58 seconds without surrendering a single goal. This set a new franchise record for longest shutout streak, and it was sealed with a 2-0 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes.
Stalock managed to best the 38-year-old Russian, who now plays for the New York Islanders, in Monday night’s game against the Kings. He gave up one goal in the loss but managed to turn away all eight of the shots he faced in the first period and four of the five shots fired at him in the second. It wasn’t until Los Angeles star Anze Kopitar lit the lamp late in the second period that Stalock’s streak came to an end.
But if Kopitar had plans to prevent the 26-year-old goalie from breaking Nabokov’s record, he scored just a few minutes too late. Stalock had gone 178 minutes and 55 seconds without allowing a goal, eclipsing the previous shutout streak by just over eight minutes and securing a new franchise record.
In 13 appearances this season, Stalock has seven wins, a .943 save percentage, a goals-against average of 1.56 and two shutouts. His numbers are considerably better than Antti Niemi‘s, though Stalock has played in less than half as many games.
Still, it could lead to an interesting offseason next summer when Niemi will be an unrestricted free agent. If Stalock keeps up his high level of play, it might not be long until he earns the starting job in San Jose.