The San Jose Sharks are the newest members of the NHL’s 20-win club. Behind rookie center Joe Pavelski
’s goal with 5.9 seconds left in regulation, the Sharks defeated the Red Wings 3-2 on Saturday night joining the Buffalo Sabres and the Anaheim Ducks as the only other 20-win team in the League. The Sharks win marked only the third time in the team’s 15-year franchise history that they had defeated the Red Wings in Detroit in the regular season.
for video highlights from tonight’s game.
Both the Sharks and the Red Wings entered the game fresh off of victories in Minnesota with San Jose beating the Wild on Wednesday and Detroit beating the Wild on Friday.
Two minutes in, the Sharks earned the first power play of the game with Marcel Goc drawing a slashing call on Wings defenseman Brett Lebda deep in the Detroit zone. The Sharks wasted no time, pouncing on the early man advantage and gaining the 1-0 lead just three minutes and 14 seconds into the game.
After controlling the puck at the Detroit blueline, Marc-Edouard Vlasic
made a tape-to-tape pass to a streaking Matt Carle who set up to the right of Detroit netminder Joey MacDonald. Carle played the puck towards the front of the net from the corner before Steve Bernier chipped the puck to Captain Patrick Marleau
. Marleau moved the puck to his backhand and buried it in the back of the net as the League’s best power play drew first blood against the 25th
-ranked penalty kill.
Detroit would respond with a rush of their own but Vesa Toskala, making his first star in goal for the Sharks since his 2-0 shutout in St. Louis last Tuesday, would close the door preserving the 1-0 Sharks lead. The quick transition game by the Wings found them on a two-on-one but Toskala came up with a huge glove-hand save on Detroit forward Robert Lange.
Detroit would seemingly tie the game halfway through the first when Detroit defenseman Mathieu Schneider beat Toskala with a blast from the left point, but the goal was waived off by referee Paul Devorski because foward Thomas Holmstrom interfered with Toskala by standing in the crease. The hard-hitting first period closed with the Sharks leading 1-0.
Like they did in the first, the Sharks came out with speed and precision passing in the second, forcing Detroit to take a penalty in the early moments of the second. Milan Michalek got in behind the Wings defense and forced Detroit center Henrik Zetterberg to take a tripping minor. But the Sharks were unable to repeat their first period power play performance and the game remained 1-0.
Just beyond the midway point of the second period Detroit would tie the game at 1-1. The Red Wings made the most out of a Sharks neutral zone turnover as Dan Cleary gathered the puck and gained the blueline before head-manning the puck. Zetterberg took the pass from Cleary and then lured two defenders before finding the trailer Mikael Samuelsson cross-ice. The former Sharks draft pick took the pass and ripped a pinpoint wrister from the middle of the circle to Toskala’s left and beat the goaltender just under the crossbar.
Building on the momentum from the crowd after tying the game, the Red Wings came out on the very next shift and drew a penalty on rookie defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic
. The penalty was only Vlasic’s third minor of the season, lowest among team defensemen, but the Wings would make him pay.
After having a goal taken away in the first period, Schneider would get his name on the scoresheet in the second, this time sending a blast from the right point that beat Toskala and gave Detroit the lead only 82 seconds after they had tied the game. Toskala nearly made the save on the play, but the puck got through the goaltender’s arm and slipped into the net for the 2-1 Red Wings lead with 7:11 remaining in the second.
Head Coach Ron Wilson shuffled his lines for the remaining seven minutes of the period, moving Marleau to the top line with Joe Thornton
and Jonathan Cheechoo and pairing Michalek on the left side with Pavelski and Bernier. Though the moves seemingly worked with both lines earning sustained time in the Detroit zone, neither line was able to convert and headed into the locker room trailing 2-1 after 40 minutes of play.
The Sharks returned to the ice in the third in the same manner they closed out the second. The newly paired Thornton-Marleau-Cheechoo line dominated in the Detroit zone, but was unable to solve the Wings young goaltender MacDonald, who was seeking his first career NHL victory in only his third career NHL start.
Six and a half minutes into the third, the Sharks would earn their fourth power play of the game as Zetterberg was sent off again, this time for holding the stick of Joe Thornton
. The Sharks set up in the Detroit zone and bombarded MacDonald with rubber, but the young goaltender did not budge.
With 20 seconds remaining in Zetterberg’s minor, Detroit dug themselves into a deeper hole as Wings grinder Kirk Maltby chopped the puck over the glass in his own defensive zone resulting in a delay of game infraction. The Sharks would have a five-on-three advantage for 20 seconds and an offensive zone faceoff to start the power play.
Though the Sharks again threatened for the remaining 20 seconds of Zetterberg’s minor and for the entirety of Maltby’s minor, they were unable to beat MacDonald who cut down angles nicely and directed his rebounds away from the attacking opposition.
Refusing to be discouraged, the Sharks finally broke through on what appeared to be a busted play. Stretching the ice with a long overhead pass, Christian Ehrhoff flipped a puck from his zone to the Detroit blueline where an eager Mike Grier was waiting. With just over three minutes remaining, Grier handled the pass and moved to Mark Bell who was one-on-one with a Wings defender.
Gathering the puck from his feet, Bell made ripped a snap shot on net that dropped quickly and stunned MacDonald. The Wings goalie was unable to control the rebound and Bell coolly followed his own shot and banked the rebound off the post for his fifth goal of the season, snapping his 15-game goalless drought. Bell’s goal energized his teammates who responded after tying the game 2-2 with a pair of inspired shifts.
Though the Sharks pressured, the game looked like it was assuredly going into overtime. But in the blink of an eye, the Sharks struck again. With 5.9 seconds remaining, Michalek capitalized on a Wings turnover at their own blueline. Michalek carried the puck into the zone, drew the Wings defenders towards him, then made a sensational backhand saucer pass to Pavelski who made no mistake and beat MacDonald glove side.
The goal was Pavelski’s fourth in just his fifth career NHL game and his first career game winner.
Jonathan Cheechoo was activated off the Injured Reserve list and returned to the lineup after missing six games with a leg injury. In a related roster move, Mark Smith was placed on the IR with a minor foot injury. Though Smith is listed as day-to-day, he will be inactive for the mandatory seven days per NHL rules. Smith will be eligible to return to the lineup on Dec. 9 when the Sharks face the Nashville Predators at HP Pavilion at San Jose.
Michalek – Thornton – Cheechoo
Marleau – Pavelski – Bernier
Bell – Goc – Grier
Rissmiller – Brown – Nieminen
Gorges - Hannan
Carle – McLaren
Vlasic – Ehrhoff
Toskala – Nabokov
The Sharks wrap up their four-game road trip on Monday, traveling to the American Airlines Arena in Dallas to face the Stars. Game time is set for 6:00 p.m. and the game is a RADIO ONLY broadcast. The game can be heard on KFOX 98.5 FM, Sharks Radio Network Affiliates and SJSHARKS.com.