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Sharks Defense Takes Game 2

by Alison High / San Jose Sharks
San Jose Sharks defenseman Niclas Wallin, of Sweden, left, celebrates his go ahead goal with teammate Ian White (9) against the Detroit Red Wings during the third period in Game 2 of an NHL Western Conference semifinal Stanley Cup playoff hockey series game in San Jose, Calif., Sunday, May 1, 2011. San Jose won 2-1. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
The Sharks defensive core stole the show in Game 2 on Sunday afternoon – netting two tallies from the blueline and holding Detroit’s high-powered offense to only one goal in the victory.

Defensive partners Ian White and Niclas Wallin each scored their first goals of the postseason on shots from the point, while also leading the team in blocked shots (4) with fellow defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

“I thought we played a really good hockey game today,” said Wallin. “We played well in front of our net and didn’t give up that many second chances.”

“The White-Wallin pairing has really been great for us on the defensive side and tonight on the offensive side as well,” said Sharks defenseman Jason Demers.

The Sharks were able to hold the Red Wings to 34 shots in Game 2 while killing off five of Detroit’s six power play opportunities. Although Wallin admitted the Sharks “took too many penalties” on Sunday, they were able to hold Detroit scoreless for 53 minutes – which included one four-minute penalty kill in the first period.

Prior to the game, the Sharks talked extensively about how to shut down the Red Wings.

“We needed to have good changes,” said Demers. “We stressed not getting caught out there because they feed on turnovers and they feed on not giving us a lot of time in our own zone. We had to be quick and hard on them – you can’t give them too much time. We know that and we respect them. We did a good job doing that tonight.”

San Jose Sharks goalie Antti Niemi (31), of Finland, defends the goal as Detroit Red Wings right wing Daniel Cleary (11) shoots in the first period in Game 2 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs Western Conference semifinal in San Jose, Calif., Sunday, May 1, 2011. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi had a huge game for San Jose. The Finnish netminder had 33 saves in the victory and was impressed with the two-way play of his team.

“I think we played really solid in both ends and we just have to keep working hard,” said Niemi. “We played really strong in front of the net. When they (Detroit) had the chance, they had to shoot it and they didn’t get too many rebounds.”

Detroit’s leading scorer in the postseason, Pavel Datsyuk, was held to only two shots on goal in Sunday’s game, while their second leading scorer, Valtteri Filppula had four. That total would have been higher, but the Sharks were able to block two of Datsyuk’s shots as well as two of Filppula’s. San Jose finished the game with 24 blocked shots.

“They’re a scoring team,” said Demers about Detroit. “They’re an offensive team and Nemo’s done a great job and so has the defense. I think frustration is going to set in on them.”

In his postgame press conference, Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan praised his defense, but admitted that they’re up for a tougher challenge when they enter Joe Louis Arena.

“I’m happy that our defense is contributing,” said McLellan. “I’m happy that they’re finding ways to get pucks to the net. That task is going to be even tougher when we get to Detroit.”

The Sharks will depart for Detroit on Monday and play Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals on Wednesday, May 3 at 5:00 PM (Pacific). The game will be broadcast on CSNCA-HD, KFOX 98.5/102.1 FM and

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