ST. LOUIS (Ticker) -- Once again, the San Jose Sharks got what they came for.
Scott Thornton scored late in the second period and Evgeni Nabokov recorded a shutout in his second career playoff start as the Sharks blanked the St. Louis Blues, 1-0, to square their Western Conference quarterfinal series at one win apiece.
Last year, San Jose also won Game Two in St. Louis and went on to stun the top-seeded Blues in seven games in the first round.
"Both series are starting out similar, but we have to keep focused on the job at hand, here and now," Sharks coach Darryl Sutter said.
Much has been made of the gritty forwards St. Louis added since that defeat, but Thornton -- signed as a free agent last July 1 -- made the difference for the Sharks.
With just over six minutes left in the second period, Niklas Sundstrom passed from the side of his own net to Damphousse in the neutral zone. He quickly fed Thornton, who got a step behind defenseman Sean Hill, broke in alone on Roman Turek and flipped a wrist shot over the goaltender's right shoulder.
"It was a good transition goal," Thornton said. "Defense turned it quick to Vinny. He has great vision on the ice. I happened to get behind the defense and he put it on my stick. I got lucky to put it in the net."
It was his fourth career playoff goal and second game-winner.
Damphousse gave the credit to Thornton for settling the puck.
"I knew my pass wasn't flat on the ice," he said. "He batted it out of the air and controlled it before he got to Turek."
After losing Thursday's opener, 3-1, Nabokov stopped 28 shots, including 13 in the third period. He kicked out his left pad to stop Keith Tkachuk's blast from the top of the left faceoff circle with 6:57 remaining and made a glove save through traffic on Al MacInnis' blast from the left point with eight seconds left.
"In the last few seconds, I was thinking we can't allow a goal. We had to win," Nabokov said. "The guys were really good in front of me today, cleared out the rebounds so that MacInnis and (Chris) Pronger didn't have as many chances as the last game. This game gave me a lot of confidence. It was very important to me and to the team."
A candidate for the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie, Nabokov recorded six shutouts during the regular season.
"He is really solid," Sutter said. "Everyone is making a big deal about him being a rookie, but he is 25 or 26 now and with the experience he got in Europe and here, he makes the big saves. And he gave our team the confidence that we needed and we can build on."
The series shifts to San Jose, which hosts Game Three on Monday night.
"Obviously, (we're) not happy with the result, but we have to keep playing, going to the net, try to get rebounds and it will eventually go in," Pronger said. "The loss makes it a little tougher on the series, but it's still a long way to go."
The teams combined for 10 shots in a scoreless first period as the Blues had the only power play. They failed to convert on two more chances with the man advantage in the second period and had a brief power play after defenseman Marcus Ragnarsson was penalized for cross-checking with three seconds left in the third.
"Our power play didn't give us much sustained attack tonight," St. Louis coach Joel Quenneville said. "Setup in the offensive zone was a struggle. We'll have to look at our power play to generate more scoring chances in the future."
Once they grabbed the lead, the Sharks limited the Blues' scoring chances.
"They had four guys back a lot after they scored. The 1-0 lead, it was tough to advance," said Quenneville. "We didn't get enough opportunites to get one after that. Tough battle, tough loss. Guys played hard but here we are, looks like a tough series."
It was St. Louis' first 1-0 playoff loss since Game Seven of the 1996 West quarterfinals, when Detroit's Steve Yzerman scored in double overtime. Mike Vernon was in the nets for San Jose's other 1-0 postseason win in Game Four of the 1998 quarterfinals against Dallas.