The San Jose Sharks were in action Tuesday night for the first time in 16 days when they played host to the Detroit Red Wings. Thanks to five power play goals, the Sharks defeated the Red Wings by the final score of 5-1.
Sitting six points out of the eighth and final playoff spot before play, the Sharks looked to move up in the standings when they sent newly re-signed Vesa Toskala to the net to take on Manny Legace. The game marked the first of 26 San Jose will play in the next 49 days.
Playing without five Olympic champions from Team Sweden who were still returning home from their Olympic experience, the Red Wings went on the power play just 18 seconds into the game after Christian Ehrhoff was called for holding Chris Draper. Toskala made two good saves on the penalty kill and the Sharks were able to fight off the power play.
Just seconds after Ehrhoff left the box, Tomas Kopecky, playing in his first NHL game, was whistled for tripping. It was now San Jose’s chance to play with the man advantage. The Sharks would waste little time and took the lead when Joe Thornton
fed Nils Ekman in front of the net. The winger forced a puck on net and managed to slip it through Legace’s five-hole.
San Jose kept the play deep into Detroit’s zone for more than a minute, putting three quality shots on Legace, much to the delight of the capacity crowd at HP Pavilion.
With just over four minutes left in the first, Ekman had a prime opportunity to give the Sharks a two-goal lead when he stole a puck at the blue line and drove in on a breakaway. His dekes didn’t fool Legace and the netminder kept the Red Wings within one.
With 1:25 left in the opening frame, Doug Murray was penalized for holding Mark Mowers.
The remainder of the period expired and the Sharks headed to the locker room with their 1-0 lead intact. San Jose out-shot Detroit 11-7 in the first.
When the second period started, the Sharks still had 35 seconds of Murray’s penalty to kill off, but they were able to do that successfully.
Six minutes into the second, Chris Chelios was called for interference and San Jose went on their second power play of the evening. 42 seconds into the advantage, Kirk Maltby was whistled for hooking and the Sharks now had 1:18 of five-on-three time.
It would take just 20 seconds into the two-man advantage for the Sharks to take the two goal lead. Joe Thornton
fed Cheechoo at the side of the net. The pass caught Legace off guard and Cheechoo flicked it past the netminder.
On the ensuing faceoff, Scott Thornton was sent to the box for hooking and the game would remain four-on-four until Jason Williams was called for hooking as well 1:15 after Thornton’s penalty. All penalties expired, however, without a change in the score.
With 6:25 left in the second, Andreas Lilja headed to the box for high-sticking Joe Thornton
. San Jose kept the pressure on Legace virtually the entire two minutes, but to no avail.
Detroit crawled within one goal with just over a minute left in the second stanza when Brett Lebda beat Toskala stick side.
The teams headed to the second intermission with the Sharks hanging on to the 2-1 lead.
San Jose came out in the third looking to extend their lead back to two goals. The first five minutes of action went back and fourth until Jason Woolley was penalized for hooking. But just six minutes into the advantage, Ekman hooked Chelios and the game was four-on-four for 1:54 until both penalties expired.
Kyle McLaren was called for holding immediately after both penalties expired and Detroit was back on the power play.
Ekman was fed a lead pass right after he got out of the box and was tripped up behind, resulting in a penalty shot. The winger’s backhand attempt was stoned by Legace and the score remained 2-1 in favor of Team Teal.
Midway through the frame, San Jose went on the power play again after Mathieu Schneider was called for holding. Just 19 seconds into the advantage, Patrick Marleau
found a loose puck in front of Legace after Ekman attempted to tip in a shot from Joe Thornton
. The Captain knew what to do with the wide open shot and buried it in the back of the net, extending San Jose’s lead to two.
Just seconds after the score, Brendan Shanahan was sent to the box for tripping and the Sharks were once again on the power play. This time it took 30 seconds for the Sharks to score, as Christian Ehrhoff rifled a shot that Legace was too late on. The Sharks now led 4-1.
A brief scrap between Steve Bernier and Mowers resulted in two-minute roughing penalties for each player. 11 seconds later, Shanahan was sent back to the box for slashing and the Sharks had a four-on-three advantage.
San Jose would take advantage of their opportunity yet again when Joe Thornton
wristed a shot five-hole past Legace from the right faceoff circle. The Sharks now led by four goals.
With Thornton’s goal, the Sharks set a new franchise record with five power play goals in the game.
Murray was called for boarding with just over four minutes left in the game. With 33 seconds left in his penalty, Tom Preissing was whistled for holding. Both penalties expired without a Detroit tally.
The final minute of the game passed and the Sharks defeated the Red Wings by the final score of 5-1.
The Sharks will travel to Edmonton on Friday to take on the Oilers at 6:00 p.m. The game can be heard on the Sharks Radio Network and sjsharks.com.