The Sharks-Red Wings game on Saturday night at HP Pavilion had all the drama one could ask for in a regular season contest. First place in the conference was on the line and in a stellar back and forth game Team Teal prevailed 6-5, increasing their Western Conference lead to three points and retaking the top spot in the NHL.
“We came out on top and that is what we set out to do,” said Dan Boyle
The hero on the night was Milan Michalek who has the primary assist on two goals and used a dramatic burst of speed to make the game 5-4 and change the momentum in San Jose’s direction for the remainder of the evening.
“It was a great game tonight,” said Michalek. “It was good to get the goal and the win. We want people to know that we are the best in the NHL.”
On Michalek’s goal, which was followed by a similar tally from Patrick Marleau
for the game-winner, a Boyle pass allowed him to blow by two defenders.
On Joe Pavelski
’s first period goal, Michalek make a blind backhanded pass through the slot that was Thorntonesque.
“I saw Pavs before, but was just hoping he stayed in the same spot and it worked,” said Michalek.
On the play, Pavelski was absolutely drilled from behind and a penalty was called, but the Wisconsin native jumped right up to put in the tally.
It wasn’t just Michalek on the line as Ryane Clowe
finished with four assists and Pavelski had his aforementioned goal centering the trio.
“The whole line with Pavelski, Michalek and Clowe was moving,” said Marleau. “Clowe and Milan were banging bodies and we felt it on the bench.”
JOINT WAS JUMPING
The crowd was excited before the players hit the ice and would continue their raucous support until the final buzzer sounded.
“It was a great game for everybody,” said Michalek.
“We feed off (them),” said Clowe. “Right when they dropped the puck, they were supporting the team.”
The fans enjoyed the rivalry, but the Sharks enjoyed the result as they have a lot of respect for the Red Wings.
“They are the Stanley Cup champs,” said Clowe. “They have unbelievable talent and you’ve got to play them for 60 minutes. If you let off for one to two minutes, they are scary. They are the champs for a reason.”
Clowe had the perfect response when asked if the contest was as fun for the players as it was for the fans.
“More fun,” Clowe said with a smile. “It was very exciting.”
The talent level on the ice may not be matched by any other matchup in the NHL, but the Sharks attempted to use one area to their advantage in moving the series count to 2-1 in their favor.
“I think we tried to use our size and be physical,” said Clowe, who had several big hits and earned the first star ranking.
San Jose did not let two one goal deficits deter them on the night, closing out the contest with three unanswered tallies in the latter half of the game.
“It’s nice to be able to stick with it the full 60 minutes,” said Marleau.
Both clubs know that one contest won’t settle much in the postseason.
“Tonight we’ll move on and the Red Wings will move on,” said McLellan.
The combined talent on the ice allowed for 11 different goal scorers on the evening.
“You never want to see five goals in the net, but with two good teams, the puck is going to go in,” said Boyle.
“If you score six, you better win,” said McLellan. “That team can score seven. As a coach, do you want to see 11 goals? Probably not.”
The Red Wings would likely have scored seven if not for Evgeni Nabokov making incredible stops against Daniel Cleary and Pavel Datsyuk in all by themselves.
To score that much, both clubs had to take some risks, but that is the style of Detroit and San Jose, letting their great players make great plays.
“It’s a credit to the teams to step up and make offensive plays,” said McLellan.
The Sharks went into the big battle without two of their regular blueliners in Rob Blake and Brad Lukowich.
“Without Blake and Lukowich, it was nice that some guys really came through for us,” said Marleau. “Everybody picked it up.
The Sharks will host Vancouver on Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. PST at HP Pavilion and the game will be available on CSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com. Tickets can be found at www.ticketmaster.com or at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office.