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Breakdown: Game 7 vs. Sharks

by Staff Writer / Detroit Red Wings

By Michael Caples |

Ten forwards weren’t enough for the Red Wings Thursday night in San Jose.

Already without the services of Johan Franzen for the second straight game, the Wings lost two forwards during Game 7 - Todd Bertuzzi early in the first period, and Dan Cleary in the second period.

Despite the shorthanded forward unit, the Wings were able to make Game 7 a one-goal game after Pavel Datsyuk scored with 6:01 left in regulation. However, the Sharks were able to hold onto their 3-2 lead.

The Wings’ season comes to an end with the 3-2 loss, after Detroit had fought back from a 3-0 deficit to force a Game 7. The Sharks will now advance to play the Vancouver Canucks.

First-period goals by Devin Setoguchi and Logan Couture gave the Sharks the early lead, and the Wings were never able to overcome the deficit. Henrik Zetterberg scored his third goal of the postseason in the second period, but Patrick Marleau scored on a rebound at the 12:13 mark of the third to regain a two-goal lead for the Sharks.

Datsyuk scored an impressive backhander to pull the Wings within one goal once again, but the Wings’ late flurry wasn’t enough.

With under 30 seconds to go in regulation, Coach Mike Babcock sent his young forwards Darren Helm, Justin Abdelkader, and Patrick Eaves onto the ice for the Wings’ last bid to tie the game. Hard work along the boards got the puck to Helm below the goal line, and he fired a pass towards Eaves. However, a charging Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau kept Eaves from getting a complete shot on goal, and the puck ended up going wide of the San Jose net. The Sharks were able to clear, and moments later, the final buzzer sounded.

8 Total shots by Pavel Datsyuk. Darren Helm was second on the Wings with four.
25 Blocked shots by the Sharks. Detroit had 20.
5 Shifts for Todd Bertuzzi before being injured. He skated for 3:53.
27 Hits by the Wings. The Sharks had 24.
50 Percent of face-offs won by each team. Both had 33 face-off wins.

Dan Boyle
G A P +/- Shots
0 1 1 +2 3

Devin Setoguchi
G A P +/- Shots
1 1 2 EV 5

Pavel Datsyuk
G A P +/- Shots
1 0 1 +1 8

Antti Niemi
40 38 2 60:00 .950

Jimmy Howard
30 27 3 58:36 .900

Dan Boyle - D

27:04 - T0I, EV rating

Nicklas Lidstrom - D

23:46 - T0I, +1 rating

With the Red Wings desperate for a goal, Pavel Datsyuk charged towards the San Jose end. The Wings’ leading playoff scorer managed to split between defenders at the blue line, and he kept skating towards the right circle. With Douglas Murray pressuring him, Datsyuk fired a backhander towards the goal. He picked his spot perfectly; the puck hit the connector between the crossbar and far post, and bounced into the net. It was a remarkable play by Datsyuk, and it brought the Wings to within one goal of the Sharks’ lead.

Jimmy Howard was the Wings’ best player in the 2011 playoffs, and he continued his ways in Game 7. Despite allowing two goals in the first period, Howard was the reason why the Wings weren’t in a bigger hole after the Sharks recorded 17 shots in the opening frame. For the rest of the contest, Howard was the Wings’ stabilizer on defense while they tried to make yet another comeback. He recorded 28 saves in the Wings’ final game of the season.

With injuries to two of his usual linemates, Henrik Zetterberg had all the more work to do in Game 7. The Wings’ assistant captain skated for 23:39, which was seven seconds behind Nicklas Lidstrom for the team lead. He scored the Wings’ first goal with an impressive backhander from the slot, which was one of three shots for him on the night. Zetterberg also led the way in the face-off circle for the Wings, picking up 16 wins. He was the workhorse for the Wings in Game 7.

Unfortunately for the Wings, the hit that affected Game 7 most was one between teammates. Jiri Hudler and Dan Cleary were both chasing the puck inside the Sharks’ blue line, and their paths crossed. Hudler’s elbow hit Cleary’s head, and Cleary fell hard to the ice. Play was stopped, and Cleary was helped off the ice. With an injury to Todd Bertuzzi in the first period, the Wings were forced to play with 10 forwards for the majority of the game.

While the members of the Wings had an added workload in Game 7, none of them topped Dan Boyle’s ice-time. The Sharks’ leader on the blue line skated for 27:04, which was almost five minutes more than any of his teammates, and almost four minutes more than Lidstrom. He recorded two assists in the Sharks’ win.

“Their goaltender was outstanding. We had 40 shots on net, they blocked another 25, and we missed the net, it says 11 times. We had a lot of rubber going their way, and you’ve got to give them credit. They’re a good team. I thought this series was a good series. I thought it was entertaining, it was fast, and it was hard for any team to leave the other team. It was just one of those series – it was a good series.”

- Mike Babcock on San Jose goaltender Antti Niemi and the Western Conference semifinal series.

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