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Sharks' special teams stepping up vs. Wings

by Dave Lozo /
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The special teams of the San Jose Sharks weren't playing at a high level during their first-round series with the Los Angeles Kings. The Sharks were just 2-for-23 on the power play and allowed five goals in 24 shorthanded situations.

In the Western Conference Semifinals against the Detroit Red Wings, the Sharks are suddenly looking very special.

Save for a late power-play goal by Henrik Zetterberg on Sunday, the Sharks' penalty-killing unit has been flawless in both of their victories in this series. The power play has two goals in 11 chances -- not exactly setting the HP Pavilion on fire, but enough improvement to make a difference in a pair of low-scoring games.

Ian White scored a power-play goal early in the first period that gave the Sharks a lead they would not relinquish. The Sharks generated eight shots on their five power-play chances, but White's first career playoff goal was by far the most important.

"Different guys every night seem to be stepping up," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said. "Everybody is going to be key. It's playoff hockey, so you never know what can happen. It's a huge goal by a defenseman."

The Sharks were 7-for-7 at killing penalties before Zetterberg scored with 6:02 remaining in the third period. It's been a pretty admirable job by the Sharks, who are facing a Red Wings team that was 4-for-15 with the extra man against the Phoenix Coyotes in the first round and boasts some of the best offensive talent in the League.

"It's one of the biggest factors for how it's going to go in this series," said White, who blocked four shots Sunday. "They've got one of the best power plays, year in and year out."

The biggest kills came during the first period, when the Sharks took three minor penalties in the first 6:23. But they were able to shut down the Red Wings with a little help from a Zetterberg high-sticking penalty during a double-minor against Benn Ferriero.

"The penalty kill did a good job," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "It was a big factor and I thought we did some good things on the penalty kill with the few adjustments that we made. If it gets away from you there, they get 2 or 3 goals, now you're chasing the game again and it takes the crowd out of it. It was very important early in the game for us."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

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