For the better half of Game 2, it appeared as if the San Jose Sharks would come home from Detroit up two games to zero. They held a 2-0 lead through most of the first period, but a series of bad breaks and miscues led to a 3-2 defeat, sending the Western Conference Semifinal matchup back to Silicon Valley tied at one.
“We started well,” said Evgeni Nabokov. “Then we started being hesitant and trying to defend the lead. We have to keep pushing the pace and be on top of our game.”
“Obviously we had a great start. We let it slip away and we can’t let that happen again,” said Joe Thornton
. “They only had 13 shots at the end of the second.”
NOT PREDICTED TO BE EASY
Just as in Nashville, the Sharks flew home disappointed in not leading by two games, but by morning they will realize that they stole home ice advantage from the Western Conference’s number one seed.
“Everybody knew this series would be long and we expected them to win some games,” said Thornton.
“We never expected it would be easy,” said Guerin.
San Jose had several chances to find a third goal, but the bounces did not go there way.
The worst break of all was San Jose not clearing the puck on Detroit’s shift that resulted in the game-winner late in the third.
‘I think about the dumb mistakes in the third and you can’t make those in a playoff game,” said Wilson. “On the last shift, we did nothing right. On all the goals we turned pucks over when we didn’t have to. We’ve got to make smart plays and play with poise in those situations. We didn’t get it out on the first, turned it over on the second and had two to three turnovers on the last goal.”
“We had a chance to get it out and we didn’t,” said Marleau. “They made a good play in the middle and a couple of us were out of position, including myself. Datsyuk put it in.”
“That situation on the road, you should be able to get back to the lockerroom and to overtime,” said Grier.
There was not much Nabokov could do with Datsyuk’s game-winner.
‘There was a rebound and Pavel was right there,” said Nabokov.
Detroit’s second tally was a shorthander in the opening moments of the third that tied the contest. Most would presume a goal scored with San Jose up a man would have put Team Teal up by a 3-1 count. Instead a turnover allowed Detroit to tie the contest and liven up Joe Louis Arena.
“We can’t give up the shorthander to start the third,” said Grier. “We haven’t given up many shorthanded goals all year and it can’t happen in the playoffs.”
“You never want to give up a shorthander,” said Thornton. “Maybe it wasn’t a back-breaker, but you don’t like to give up a goal in the first minute of the third.”
Nabokov was in position, but the shot was perfectly placed.
“It went top shelf right above my arm,” said Nabokov. “It was a pretty good shot.”
It was another tally close to a period’s conclusion that put the first sign of life into the Red Wings. As the first stanza wound down, a simple shot from along the boards went off a Shark defender’s skate and the change of direction fooled Nabokov to pull Detroit within one.
“They got a lucky break on the first,” said Nabokov. “It deflected off a skate and in.”
Team Teal knew the series would not be a walk in the park, but they were disappointed their own mistakes cost them.
“We did it to ourselves,” said Marleau.
San Jose won’t dwell on Saturday’s loss long as Game 3 is Monday night.
“We definitely had chances,” said Thornton. “Now we have to look to Game 3.”
San Jose did have several opportunities that could easily have been turned into a third goal that could have altered the outcome.
Milan Michalek almost found the net on the Sharks first power play and a Bill Guerin blast got through Hasek, but didn’t have quite enough steam to cross the line.
“We had opportunities throughout the game,” said Wilson. “Hasek was huge. They only had 22 shots and we controlled play (most of the game). We should have had three or four (goals). A world class goalie kept them alive.”
TOUGH NIGHT UP A MAN
The shorthander may not have hurt as bad had the Sharks been able to score once on their six power play chances.
“We had some good chances we didn’t get in the net,” said Christian Ehrhoff.
“Dominik made some big saves,” said Grier.
The Sharks are 2-0 at HP Pavilion in this postseason and the players know their supportive crowd can make a difference as it did in Round 1.
“We’re excited to go home,” said Grier.
“We’ve got to be better going home,” said Thornton. “We love playing in front of our fans.”
Playing their style of hockey with their speed and big bodies will make a difference as well.
“We’re effective when we get the puck deep and we got away from that,” said Thornton. “I’m not sure why.”
Thornton, Jonathan Cheechoo and Milan Michalek were commanding throughout the contest, accounting for both Sharks goals and many more chances.
“Joe’s line was dominating all night,” said Thornton. “With a little luck, they would have had more. We have to get the shots upstairs from the tight areas.”
Due to family and business reasons, Marty McSorley will not be on the FSN Bay Area telecast in Round 2. Sharks fans are more than familiar with his fill-in though as Drew Remenda will be returning for the duration of the Detroit series along side Randy Hahn.
Game 3 against Detroit will take place at 7 p.m. on Monday at HP Pavilion. The contest will be aired on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.