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Wings bring Sharks back to earth

by Brian Hunter / NHL.com
The San Jose Sharks might be the hottest thing going in the Western Conference, but on Thursday night the Detroit Red Wings reminded them who's still defending Stanley Cup champions.

Pavel Datsyuk finished with four points and Ty Conklin stopped all 24 shots he faced for his sixth career shutout as the Red Wings routed the Sharks 6-0 at Joe Louis Arena to atone for a 4-2 loss when the teams met in San Jose in October.

Datsyuk scored twice, with Johan Franzen, Marian Hossa, Valtteri Filppula and Brad Stuart also getting goals. Detroit opened up a seven-point lead over Chicago in the Central Division while closing to within seven of San Jose for first in the League.

"Any time you play the good teams, and when you're a good team yourself, they help you get ready," said Detroit coach Mike Babcock, who earned his first head-to-head win against San Jose's Todd McLellan, a Wings' assistant for the previous three seasons. "I thought that was positive tonight."

After going 25-3-2 to break the 1929-30 Boston Bruins' record for the best 30-game start in NHL history, the Sharks lost for the second night in a row; they dropped a 2-1 overtime decision in Columbus on Wednesday.

"Just flat out they were better in every situation," McLellan said. "We can come down off of our perch and everybody can look at each other and realize that we've still got some work to do."

San Jose controlled play for the opening 10 minutes, but Detroit jumped out to a 2-0 lead by scoring on consecutive shots against Evgeni Nabokov later in the first. Franzen wristed a shot over the goalie's glove from the high slot at 14:31 and Datsyuk scored from a similar area 1:27 later.

"I think we played well in the first period, but I think that first goal changed the momentum and changed everything," said Nabokov, who thought he should have made the save. "It was such an easy shot. I thought I had it in my glove."

Hossa, in the Top 10 in the League in goal scoring, notched his 17th of the season and the lone goal of the second period. He snapped a one-timer off the blocker of Nabokov and into the top of the net at 9:18 for a 3-0 lead.

If the Wings weren't comfortable enough, they put the game away with a three-goal burst in the third. Filppula triggered it at 7:25 by firing a cross-crease feed from Dan Clearly into an open net. Datsyuk scored again at 12:29 and won a faceoff to set up Stuart's first of the season four minutes later.

"It was nice to get that monkey off my back. It's been a while," Stuart said. "It was nice to get that one out of the way, probably took a little longer than I would have liked. It's always good to get it."

Conklin held the Sharks off the board early with nine saves in the first period and finished strong with 10 more stops in the third.

"It's a big win and it was a complete game from everybody," Conklin said. "The shutout's nice. It was certainly a team-earned shutout. But I think more than anything we're more focused on the win."

Detroit's solid play at both ends of the ice from start to finish also drew the praise of its coach.

 
 
"In every game that we've played, we've played good hockey," Babcock said. "We just don't play it for 60 (minutes) … we start late or start on time and then don't (finish), so tonight was more putting it all together for the whole period of time. But we've done a lot of good things this year. You can't win as many games as we've won without doing a lot of good things. It's just doing it for 60 minutes, and you've got to give our guys a lot of credit tonight."

Material from wire services and team broadcast media was used in this report.


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