Normally, San Jose can be counted on to stay out of the penalty box for most of a game. That simple strategy, along with an excellent plan when down a man, has made them one of the NHL’s top shorthanded clubs all season.
On Saturday night, the Sharks provided too much power play time to a club that is among the NHL’s most dangerous and it cost them in a 6-3 loss against Detroit.
“The penalties hurt,” said Jonathan Cheechoo. “They are a talented team five-on-five. You can’t give them that much time five-on-three. Our penalty killers have been great and you can’t blame them (for tonight). You can’t give Detroit that many chances.”
“That killed us,” said Sharks Head Coach Ron Wilson. “We regained our composure and had a great couple of shifts that could have made it 3-2. Then we made a colossal blunder on our end. You give them (those penalties) for four to five minutes and they’re going to turn the lights out.”
Christian Ehrhoff was called for one of the penalties when he and Hasek came together and the Detroit goaltender fell to the ice.
“I touched him a little stick-to-stick,” said Ehrhoff. “I tried to get away with my feet. I think he threw himself down. The referee in the corner didn’t call it. The one at the red line did and that was pretty curious.”
LITTLE CHANCE During the difficult second where Detroit scored four times, Nabokov has virtually no chance on any of the tallies.
“I don’t know how many were his fault,” said Wilson. “We’ve got to play better defense.”
San Jose nightly holds opponents to among the fewest shots in the league, but that has not been the case the past few contests.
“It’s not the goals against, it’s the 30 shots a night,” said Wilson. “We usually only give up 20. It gives me plenty of ammo when we talk to this group regarding what we have to do. There is plenty of work left to be the team we want to be.”
TOUGH FIRST As difficult as the second period was for Team Teal, the first period was hard to swallow as Detroit limited San Jose to just one shot.
“They did a great job in all aspects,” said Cheechoo. “They out hustled us for a lot of pucks and you have to have the puck to win.”
“We’ve got to give them credit,” said Jeremy Roenick. “They hound the puck all the time. If guys aren’t ready when they get the puck, it’s hard to create offense.”
RALLY Trailing 2-0 in the second, the Sharks did manage to tie the contest. Friday call-up Devin Setoguchi scored the first tally when he stationed himself out front and tipped a Sandis Ozolinsh blast. The second came when Cheechoo looked to be taking the puck behind Hasek’s net. When he noticed the Detroit goaltender getting a head start, Cheechoo stopped short and stuffed the puck short side.
“I was going around, but he overplayed a little and left it open,” said Cheechoo.
“We fell down 2-0 and battled back,” said Roenick.
After the Sharks tied the game, they had a series of chances that could have provided the lead and the crowd was roaring before Detroit scored to take the lead for the rest of the game.
“We gave them the momentum,” said Ehrhoff. “We had the momentum the shift before.”
BATTLING THE BIGS The Sharks have had troubles against some of the NHL’s best this season and know that will somehow have to change.
“We have to find a way to win and be more competitive against them,” said Evgeni Nabokov. “Obviously against this measuring stick (Detroit) we are 0-3. We have to learn something and be better than that.”
RED WINGS HEAD COACH MIKE BABCOCK “I thought we had a pretty good night. We only gave up 18 shots on the road. We played intelligently.”
“Sometimes it doesn’t go your way. The guy scored from below the goal, it was a bit of a cheapie. At that point I felt that we got back at it. (Niklas) Kronvall just went to the net and that’s what you have to do. And then at that point we got on the power-play and then the game was over. That was a big sixth goal too.”
“I thought our power-play was really good. We hadn’t been as good on the power-play lately. The past few games, we’ve had one or two good power-plays and then some horrible ones. We put something together tonight.”
D POINTS CONTINUE Sandis Ozolinsh had three assists and Craig Rivet added one to give the Sharks defensive unit at least one point in the last 10 games. They have produced 21 points (6-15=21) in that span. Ozolinsh’s three assists gave him his first multi-point game of the season.
NEXT GAME The Sharks will host the Chicago Blackhawks Tuesday night at HP Pavilion in a 7:30 p.m. faceoff. Limited tickets are still available at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at www.ticketmaster.com. The contest will be available on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.