The Sharks clashed with the Detroit Red Wings for the second time in six days on Thursday night, this time facing the Wings at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.
to watch video highlights from tonight's game.
Head Coach Ron Wilson continued with his No. 1 and No. 1A goaltender rotation, calling on Evgeni Nabokov to defend the Sharks goal. Veteran netminder Dominik Hasek was summoned to man the nets for the Wings.
The game opened without much flow as the two teams played cautiously in all three zones. Neither team was able to sustain any pressure with each team chipping pucks out of the defensive zone, clogging up the neutral zone and dumping and chasing in the offensive zone.
The Wings earned the first scoring chance of the game, slowing down a Sharks rush up ice and turning it around for a two-on-one opportunity. Detroit center Jason Williams gathered the puck at center and broke in on Sharks defenseman Matt Carle while the dangerous Pavel Datsyuk looked to join Williams on the rush.
However the Wings chance was stopped as Carle’s defensive partner Kyle McLaren was on the backcheck and managed to tie up Datsyuk’s stick before the forward was able to fire his quick release a shot on Nabokov.
From that point, the game seemed to open up a bit as the two teams traded rushes and sustained pressure in each other’s zone. Captain Patrick Marleau
and linemates Milan Michalek and Steve Bernier had a few high energy shifts, but the Wings defensemen turned aside the talented Sharks forwards.
In the Sharks zone, Nabokov was sensational stopping all 14 first period shots by the Wings. Detroit’s pesky forwards peppered the San Jose netminder, but Nabokov was able to weather the storm.
With less than five minutes remaining in the first, Christian Ehrhoff was interfered with and knocked to the ice by Detroit’s Johan Franzen giving the Sharks the first man advantage of the evening. On the ensuing power play, Bernier would open the scoring for the Sharks depositing a perfect pass from Michalek into the Wings net.
Michalek gained possession of the puck behind the Detroit cage, faked a move in one direction and rifled a pass in the other direction to Bernier who beat Hasek before the Detroit netminder had even spun his head around to square to the shot. Bernier’s goal marked the second consecutive game he opened the scoring for the Sharks as Team Teal took a 1-0 lead into the locker room.
The Wings, who entered the contest riding a three-game losing streak, looked to answer the Sharks power play goal and draw on their inspired play in the first period. Detroit dominated the puck possession game, cycled down low and seemed to dictate play the first half of the period.
Sensing his team was scrambling, Sharks Head Coach Ron Wilson utilized his timeout, slowing the Wings attack and allowing him the opportunity to strategize with his squad.
The Sharks responded in a big way after the timeout, sending Marleau’s line to the ice who quickly earned a pair of scoring chances. The Sharks would then swing the momentum of the game back in their favor, tightening up defensively and slowing the Wings down in the neutral zone.
The Sharks would again draw a pair of scoring chances as Detroit’s Tomas Holmstrom was called for holding. But the Wings killed the penalty, containing the Sharks power play units that scored five power play goals against them just six days earlier.
As the momentum shifted back to Detroit, the Wings drew two penalties as the second period drew to a close. Michalek was called for interference with three minutes remaining in the second, but the Sharks penalty killers and Nabokov withstood the Detroit pressure and killed the man advantage.
Just 22 seconds after Michalek’s interference penalty expired and he returned to the ice, he was again sent off, this time for tripping. The Sharks killed the first 38 seconds of Michalek’s second penalty and closed out the second period with a 1-0 lead behind Nabokov’s stellar play.
Detroit opened the third period on the power play with 1:22 remaining on Michalek’s tripping minor. However, the Wings needed just 38 seconds to convert on the man advantage, tying the game at 1-1 on their 28th shot. Mathieu Schneider buried his fourth goal of the season, taking a feed from Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk and rifling a slap shot from the point that rang off the cross bar and the far post before finding its way behind Nabokov.
The Red Wings appeared to gain confidence and momentum after tying the game but the Sharks countered with offensive bursts of their own. While it was clear the game was not as tightly called as the game in San Jose, the Sharks still managed to draw two penalties on Detroit, giving them the opportunity to take the lead. But Detroit killed both opportunities as Hasek shut down the Sharks attack.
The Wings sensed they had dodged a bullet and on the first shift after they had killed the second power play of the period, the Schneider-led Wings struck again. Brett Lebda fed Schneider in at the point and from almost the identical spot where he beat Nabkov earlier in the period fired a shot.
This time instead of blasting a slap shot off the far side crossbar, Schneider fired a low, hard snap shot at the near post. Robert Lang found Schneider’s shot through a crowd in front and redirected it up and over Nabokov’s shoulder giving the Wings the 2-1 lead with less than nine minutes to play in the game.
The Sharks had a sequence of flurries in front of the Wings net with less than a minute remaining, but Hasek and his defensemen were able to clear rebounds and loose pucks before the Sharks were able to capitalize and tie the game. Overshadowed by the 2-1 Detroit victory was Nabokov’s impressive play, stopping 37 of 39 shots. Detroit earned the much needed victory, ending their three-game losing streak.
SAN JOSE SHUFFLE
In the second half of the second period and at times in the third, Sharks Head Coach Ron Wilson shuffled around his lines giving new looks to some different line combinations. Ville Nieminen was feeling slightly under the weather today making way for Patrick Rissmiller to pick up a few of his shifts.
Michalek – Marleau – Bernier
Bell – Thornton – Cheechoo
Nieminen – Brown – Grier
Rissmiller – Goc – Smith
Carle – McLaren
Gorges – Ehrhoff
Vlasic – Hannan
Nabokov – Toskala
The Sharks will play back-to-back games for the first time this season, traveling to Nashville tonight to face the Predators tomorrow. Game time is set for 5:00 p.m. (Pacific) and will be broadcast on FSN Bay Area, KFOX 98.5 FM, Sharks Radio Network Affiliates and SJSHARKS.com.