San Jose hooked up with playoff rival Detroit in the Motor City to try and add and increase their two-game winning streak, but suffered a difficult 5-1 loss, falling to 3-24-3 all-time in Michigan.
Evgeni Nabokov manned his crease opposite Chris Osgood, who was filling in for the injured Dominik Hasek and Kyle McLaren rejoined the lineup, taking the spot of Douglass Murray.
Less than 1:30 into the contest, Detroit took the early lead in a sign of things to come. Former Shark Mikael Samuelsson fed Valtteri Filppula in the slot and he lifted the backhand above Nabokov’s shoulder for the early 1-0 lead.
San Jose responded with strong pressure in front of Osgood on the next two shifts, but could not immediately pull even.
With six minutes left in the first, both clubs had quality scoring opportunities. First, Chris Chelios rang one off the post. On the other end of the ice, both Jonathan Cheechoo and Jeremy Roenick both had chances on Osgood. The Detroit netminder fended off Cheechoo’s shot and played the angle perfectly to eliminate any shot attempt from Roenick.
When Detroit had their next chance moments later, Andreas Lilja pocketed the tally. He was fed in the slot in a similar fashion to Filppula and he roofed it with his forehand, providing Detroit a two-goal lead.
A double minor to Joe Thornton
(delay of game and roughing) forced the Sharks to play shorthanded in closing out the final three minutes of the third, but the penalty killers did their job and prevented the lead from swelling to three.
San Jose killed off the remainder of the four-minute power play beginning the second, but when even-strength play returned, it was another scoring shot for Detroit, however, Nabokov made a nifty glove save to prevent the tally.
Rob Davison and Aaron Downey exchanged roundhouse punches early in the second, with Davison finishing the bout on top of Downey. Davison was given an extra two for roughing, but Team Teal once again came through shorthanded.
San Jose had a late power play chance to try and close the gap before the second intermission, but Detroit’s stingy defense came through on the penalty kill as well, keeping the Sharks down 2-0. The Red Wings might be the NHL’s best in shots against and they had the skill strongly on display, holding Team Teal to just six shots through 40 minutes.
Just 20 seconds into the third, it was Detroit with another opportunity. Nabokov turned away Pavel Datsyuk on a breakaway, but on the same shift, Tomas Holmstrom banged home a blocked Niklas Lidstrom shot to quickly make it 3-0 for the home club and opening up the floodgates.
With 12 minutes left in the third, Datsyuk came in on Nabokov again and he displayed some amazing stickhandling skills in creating havoc in the slot. Henrik Zetterberg was left open when a second defender went towards Datsyuk and Zetterberg easily slapped in the open shot for a 4-0 score.
Sharks Head Coach Ron Wilson pulled Nabokov for Dimitri Patzold, but it would not change the pattern. Following a first save by Patzold, Kirk Maltby grabbed the rebound and placed it to the far corner, making a 5-0 Detroit lead. It was the second goal in 24 seconds.
A goaltender interference call against Holmstrom put San Jose on the power play late in the third and Alexei Semenov slapped in his first goal as a Shark in just his second game in Teal.
That would be the only positive on the night for San Jose as the Red Wings limited the Sharks to 11 shots on the night in taking the 5-1 victory.
The Sharks will play the Blue Jackets at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday in Ohio and the game will be available on 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.