Things didn't go well in Game 1 for the Wings, as they suffered a 4-3 loss in a match that saw the Sharks score three times in a 1:19 span in the opening period. While coach Mike Babcock insisted afterward the quick turnaround had little to do with the outcome, he was able to give his team a day off on Friday.
That's because HP Pavilion was unavailable for hockey on Friday and Saturday due to concerts performed by The Eagles. With two days in between games, it was an easy decision for Babcock to make to give his team a day off. Game 2 will be played at HP Pavilion on Sunday at 8 p.m. Eastern time.
"I like having the extra day off at home … I don't like the fact that we had to stay in one city this long," a highly-entertaining Babcock said on Saturday. "In saying all that, we needed a day off. They told me The Eagles were a good band last night. They played hits for an hour, took a little rest and then came back for another hour. You can't take that away from the people in the Bay Area."
Still, the concerts forced this series to begin at least a day earlier than it probably would have. San Jose pounced on Detroit early, but the Red Wings nearly came all the way back before Joe Pavelski restored a two-goal lead with a power-play goal early in the third period. Brian Rafalski made it 4-3 with 17:03 to go, but Detroit couldn't find the equalizer.
"You have one day off, and you've got to get ready for Game 1 of a series," Wings forward Kris Draper said. "Our start wasn't as good as we wanted, but we responded and did some good things and made it a real good hockey game. Unfortunately, we came up a little bit short. But we had a good day off yesterday, which I think was well-deserved. We get back at it tomorrow. That's the beauty of the playoffs."
Captain Nicklas Lidstrom
agreed that his club needed to get away from the rink for a day.
"It was a good day for us," said Lidstrom, who played nearly 29 minutes on Thursday night. "It was a good day to just hang out and rest. Playing in a seven-game series, it's nice to get that extra day on the road, where you can just get away from the rink for a day.
"I just hung out, took it easy. Nothing special."
San Jose held a 3-0 lead in Game 1 by the 10:24 mark, and the Red Wings fully expect the No. 1 seed to come out flying again on Sunday. It's up to them to try and match the energy and intensity.
"We have to get it going … we can't just sit back and let them carry the play for the first 10 minutes," Lidstrom said. "We've got to set the tone. You can do that by forechecking a little bit better, get the puck in on them and not throw the puck away when you have it, too. We just have to play a little smarter and get the legs going early."
And if the Wings can limit their mistakes, they know the chances of going back to Detroit with a split will be that much greater. The series shifts to Joe Louis Arena for Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively.
"They always play well in this building," Draper said of the Sharks. "Their starts are very good. It's a very good hockey team. They did a lot of good things in that first period. We were on our heels a little bit. Every time we made a mistake, the guys put the puck in the back of the net. That's something we're well aware of. We have to play with more structure at the start of the game and go from there."