San Jose returned home from their three-game road trip to find the high-scoring Detroit Red Wings waiting at HP Pavilion. In a back and forth contest that saw 13 goals, the Sharks lost a heartbreaker, falling to the Wings, 7-6.
In a matchup that saw Evgeni Nabokov square off with Chris Osgood in the pipes, it was the Red Wings that would jump out to the early lead on a goal by Jason Williams. Some strong cycling by Detroit near the goal line put Williams alone from eight feet out and he roofed the puck for the 1-0 lead.
Before the Red Wings could celebrate, Osgood was called for delay of game and Team Teal was on the power play. The always dangerous Patrick Marleau did his best to immediately respond. Taking the puck in through the slot, he split the defense and was alone on Osgood. However, after out-maneuvering the Detroit goaltender, leaving him out of position and down on the ice, Marleau’s shot bounced off the right post and harmlessly to the side. Detroit would kill off the remaining time on the disadvantage.
Tom Preissing was sent to the box immediately after and the Wings were on the advantage. With the extra man, Detroit nearly made it 2-0 when Brendan Shanahan fired a shot close range, but Nabokov made a quick save on the attempt.
The Sharks were next to head on the power play and this time they would make good on their man advantage. Jonathan Cheechoo took the puck across the blue line, firing a shot on goal. Scott Thornton blocked the shot in front and Alyn McCauley swept the puck past Osgood, tying the game at one apiece.
The fast-paced, hard-hitting first period wrapped up with 23 shots being fired on goal between the teams (10 by the Sharks, 13 by the Wings).
Just under two minutes into the second period, San Jose went back on the power play when Jamie Rivers was sent to the box for tripping. Despite working the puck in Detroit’s end for nearly the entire advantage, the Sharks couldn’t capitalize.
The Shark did however take the lead six minutes into the period when a shot by Marcel Goc deflected right to a streaking Marco Sturm. Sturm put the puck past Osgood’s right shoulder, giving the Sharks a 2-1 lead.
Just as San Jose responded to Detroit’s tally, Detroit responded right back, although not without a little luck. On a power play, Mathieu Schneider tossed one toward the net. The puck first hit Sturm’s stick out front and then, as it was heading wide, directed off of Preissing’s knee and into the net.
Schneider would strike again moments later to regain the lead for the visitors, taking a perfect feed in the slot from Robert Lang and burying the opportunity.
The see-saw match continued and, again, San Jose would respond. This time it was McCauley standing out front to tip an initial shot from Brad Stuart. As the puck sat in the crease, Mark Smith beat everyone to the loose puck and knotted the contest at 3-3.
The up and down affair would not end there. This time, a perfect feed from Schneider sent former Shark Mikael Samuelsson in alone on Nabokov and his perfectly placed wrister made the score 4-3 Red Wings. The tally ended a run of five goals in five minutes and 10 seconds.
With Henrik Zetterberg and Smith both in the penalty box, four-on-four play ruled the ice and Christian Ehrhoff took the puck along the half boards and skated directly to the crease. He was held up by Lang and San Jose had 1:15 of five-on-three time.
San Jose fired shot after shot on Osgood, with several rebounds just inches from becoming the tying goal, but for the moment, Detroit would maintain their lead.
San Jose was outshooting the visiting Wings 25-19 at the break, but Detroit would carry the 4-3 lead into the final stanza.
Just over a minute into the third, Marleau almost evened the count again. He sprung into the offensive zone and as he split the defense, he was haggled just enough to prevent his shot for posing a serious challenge to Osgood.
Thornton would ensure San Jose tied the contest two minutes later. With the Sharks controlling the puck for more than 20 seconds on a delayed penalty, the puck was in the zone, left the zone and came back in again. When Ekman finally put a shot toward the net, Thornton was out front creating his usual havoc. This time he found the puck first and tucked it in just prior to Osgood covering the far post.
A questionable call against Primeau gave Detroit nearly two minutes of five-on-three time and they took advantage. With the offense working the puck in deep, Schneider threaded the needle on a screen and Detroit was up 5-4.
An unsportsmanlike penalty to Kyle McLaren gave Detroit another minute of five-on-three time, but as the first Primeau penalty expired, the puck moved toward the penalty box door and the big center, who was still sporting two black eyes from the last homestand, was off to the races. With a defender closing, he rifled a wrister past Osgood to tie the game yet again and send the HP Pavilion faithful into a frenzy.
With eight minutes to go, it was San Jose’s turn for some five-on-three time. Back-to-back Detroit penalties would give San Jose 1:27 of time while up two men. Ron Wilson called a timeout to orchestrate the ensuing play.
San Jose’s initial efforts were rebuffed when Kirk Maltby hammered Goc in the head in front of the crease. Goc would have the final say on that play however. San Jose once again took the faceoff and controlled play. This time the rookie sensation, Grant Stevenson, would take the puck along the goal line and perfectly setup Goc across the crease. Osgood had no hope on the play and San Jose would take the 6-5 lead.
An unfortunate delay of game penalty to McLaren gave Detroit the next power play and in keeping with the flow of the game, they would connect. On the rush, Williams found Shanahan streaking into the zone. The veteran all-star skated in and rifled the puck past a sliding Stuart and over the shoulder of Nabokov.
Just a minute and ten seconds later, Shanahan would strike again. Skating in as the third man on a three-on-two rush, the cross ice pass found him as he strided toward the crease and he tapped in the go-ahead tally.
With one minute left on the clock the Sharks pulled Nabokov in an attempt to tie the game at seven, but despite a few last minute shots, the Wings skated off with the 7-6 win.