For the third time in this series, the Sharks jumped out to a 2-0 lead, and although they held the lead for the better portion of the game, Detroit pressed hard, mounting a 26-12 advantage in shots on goal for periods two and three. Their persistence paid off as the Sharks surrendered goals in the final minute of each period. The Red Wings netted their third final-minute goal in a row with an overtime winner.
“We seemed to want to sit back and try to cover a lead. That’s not the way to play in this league,” said defenseman Craig Rivet. “The players are too talented. We knew Detroit wasn’t going to quit. We still seemed to sit back and let them come at us.”
Nursing that 2-0 lead, Detroit entered the Sharks zone to make one last push before the end of the second period. A strong cycle of the puck resulted in a Kyle McLaren cross-checking penalty with 10 seconds left. On the ensuing faceoff, Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg took the draw back to defenseman Niklas Lidstrom, who quickly shoveled the puck to his defensive partner Mathieu Schneider. Schneider’s shot on Evgeni Nabokov left a rebound and Red Wings forward Tomas Holmstrom put it behind Nabokov with 4.5 seconds left to pull the Wings within one goal.
Nabokov weathered 12 Detroit shots in the third period, but the 13th proved to be unlucky as a Robert Lang drive barely squeezed through his pads for the tying goal. The sequence started when the Red Wings pulled goaltender Dominik Hasek for an extra attacker. Lidstrom and Schneider headed up ice and eventually advanced the puck to Red Wings forward Valterri Filppula, who hit Lang to set up the tally.
“Some people have to take a good look in the mirror why they were in the positions they were in on the ice, cheating on the offensive side of things when the other team has pulled their goalie. If you get on the right side of the puck, nothing happens. You don’t even have to worry about overtime,” said Sharks Head Coach Ron Wilson.
“You give up two goals – one with four seconds left and one with 30. It’s disappointing for sure but we have to move forward with Game 5,” said Sharks forward Patrick Rissmiller.
The game-clinching goal came on a Red Wings man-advantage after Rivet earned a delay of game penalty at 14:52. Detroit cycled the puck behind the net. Late in the shift of penalty killers Kyle McLaren, Rissmiller, Scott Hannan and Marcel Goc, Hannan corralled a puck and tried to drive it out of the zone from in front of the net. It was the right play after seeing Red Wings forwards close off the boards, however, his clearing attempt was intercepted by Schneider.
“I put a lot on it, but I just didn’t get it high enough,” Hannan said. “I turned and fired it. I’ve got to get it out of there.”
Schneider then unleashed a bomb that was nearly blocked by a diving Rissmiller, but it deflected to the top corner, beating Nabokov to end the game.
“It went off my stick. I thought I had it,” Rissmiller said.
“Rizz is doing what he should do. We didn’t clear the puck and it’s a desperation move trying to block the shot,” Wilson said. “It’s not Nabby’s fault.”
Although the dam broke in the final minute, the Sharks blamed their passive play leading up to the respective final minutes.
“We sat back too much. With a team like that, you have to play the same way for 60 minutes,” said forward Marcel Goc.
SHARKS RECORDS TIED
With an assist Wednesday night, Joe Thornton
has registered 19 points (3-16 =19) in his last 16 playoff games with the Sharks. He also has a seven-game assist streak in the postseason which ties the franchise record (Jeff Norton, 1994 thru 1999).
Jonathan Cheechoo scored a goal in his third consecutive game and is one away from the franchise record held by Patrick Marleau
(2 times), most recently accomplished in 2006.
Wednesday marked Patrick Marleau
postseason game which tied Mike Rathje’s franchise record.
The Sharks played their first home overtime playoff game since May 9, 2004 against Calgary.
RED WINGS, HEAD COACH, MIKE BABCOCK
“I thought we played well. I thought they were better than us in the first eight minutes, and then I thought we were better than them. They were up 2-0 - I thought they got two huge breaks. They got a huge break in the face off circle when Thornton should have been kicked out before that first goal. They got a huge break when we had too many people on the ice and they ended up scoring a goal. Those are things that happen in hockey, but if you stick to it and you work hard, you get your breaks.”
“Phil made an unbelievable play on the wall and they got caught pinching up on us, and then Langer made the shot. And then honestly Schneider had a big play.”
“I thought Homer really helped our power play tonight coming back. Just his puck skills and his net-front presence. It was unfortunate when he broke his blade. You know I thought here we go we have a power play in overtime and we got no Homer because he broke his blade, but that’s the way things go.”
“I actually expected to win the other night, but I thought we’d be coming home 2-2. They’re a real good team, we’re a real good team, and that’s why it’s so hard in the games to control the game. Both teams are used to controlling the tempo of the game. That’s what happens to you all year long and that’s why you don’t think you played that good.”
Game 5 will take place at 11 a.m. on Saturday in Detroit and will be available on NBC 11, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.