Ok folks. Still not caught up from the weekend revelry (during which you could have seen an entire wedding party singing 'Don't Stop Believin' at high-volume and low pitch-control). I have game 4 watched, but that CSSI post is coming later tonight. In the meantime, the tracker is going to be a game behind.
Neither team was able to score on the power play in this one. Detroit only had two opportunities to San Jose's four. This might ordinarily be the place where I'd say that the refs didn't do a good job, but there really is no expectation that penalties should even out. Overall, I felt that the consistency we've been looking for was mostly there. I can readily admit that San Jose deserved twice as many power play chances. After all, Detroit nearly found themselves outshot by a 2-to-1 margin, managing to win the game despite being outshot 42-22.
Scoring and plus/minus analysis after the jumpThe Goals
Penalty Adjustment: 12:26 into the period and after the Wings have already killed off one power play that wasn't adjusted, Detroit finds themselves down a man again as Lidstrom gets his stick blade onto Devin Setoguchi's foot and brings the vertigo-stricken forward down. Of course I'm going to call Seto a diver here, but the stick control has to be better. Lidstrom will get a minus.
1st Period 17:18 - San Jose Goal: Devin Setoguchi (tip in) from Dan Boyle and Joe Thornton
Thornton wins the faceoff cleanly against Filppula, bouncing the puck off the boards to Boyle at the blue line where he walks into the center of the point and fires a shot that Setoguchi tips under Howard on its way in on net. The cleanly lost faceoff is going to earn Filppula an extra half-minus. Other than that, Datsyuk should have gotten a stick on the initial shot (despite being interfered with on the faceoff), and the puck went through Franzen's, Stuart's, and Lidstrom's sticks on the way through. Nobody will have a minus cleared here.
Penalty Adjustment: 17:43 into the period, Franzen and Thornton go into the boards after a whistle and Thornton showcases all of the lessons he's learned in Dickhead College by riding Franzen into the boards and aggravating his ankle injury. Franzen, understandably upset by this shitty move, gives Thornton a chop across the ankle. Thornton acts like he stepped on a land mine here and stays down for a good two minutes while he's waiting for the Academy to get back to him on his chances for next year's Oscars. I lay it on extra-thick here, but I also have to be thankful. If Thornton doesn't cry like a bitch at the love-tap Franzen gives him, the Wings are down a man at a bad time. Franzen will get a half-minus for the retaliatory chop.
Penalty Adjustment: 2:46 into the 2nd, Pavel Datsyuk chases Clowe up the boards in the Sharks' zone and uses his free hand to try to separate him from the puck. It's an obvious call and a minus for Datsyuk.
2nd Period 15:32 - San Jose Goal: Joe Pavelski (tip in) from Ryane Clowe and Kyle Wellwood
The Wings put on a bit of pressure in the San Jose zone as Rafalski steps into a play to break up a Kyle Wellwood clearing attempt up the middle of his own zone. Raffi can't control the puck to get a shot off and it goes back to Wellwood in the corner. Helm comes in to pressure as Rafalski backs out of the zone, but he lets Clowe get behind him as he back out. Wellwood makes a pass here that would get him a bonus assist if I gave two shits about scoring these plays for the Sharks. The pass goes off the boards to Clowe behind Rafalski to break him and Pavelski in for a 2-on-1. Ericsson tries to go down to block the pass, but he doesn't get a piece of the puck before it gets on Pavelski's stick and is tipped over Howard to give the Sharks a two-goal lead. Draper and Eaves are both in position here and will not get minuses as the play develops away from their coverage. Helm will keep his minus for not stopping the Wellwood pass at the base. Rafalski will get a full extra minus for also failing to block the pass, but more importantly letting Clowe get behind him. It's very difficult to be the lone defenseman back on a 2-on-1 like Ericsson was here, but it's well known that it's his job to prevent the pass and he simply fails at that. Ericsson will get an extra half-minus.
2nd Period 16:25 - Detroit Goal: Niklas Kronwall (wrist shot) from Pavel Datsyuk and Brad Stuart
In the next shift, the Wings start off with a little bit of trouble working through the forecheck, as Marleau pressures down low. Eventually, Datsyuk picks it out of the corner and thanks to a minor screen from Zetterberg has space to carry up ice. Pavel brings it across the blue line against White and Wallin with Couture chasing him and, right as the three men converge on him, he lays a drop pass to Stuart. Couture collides with Stuart, which stops both of them in their tracks and allows the puck to go back to Datsyuk on a give-and-go. While Zetterberg joins in with another good subtle screen to prevent the Sharks from pressuring the puck-carrier, Datsyuk brings it back high in the zone where he rags the puck to draw defenders towards him before finding Kronwall taking a run down in the zone. The pass gets to him at the top of the circle. Kronwall waits an extra half-beat for Niemi to pull himself across his own goal mouth before putting a wrister through the legs of Wallin and over the shoulder. Zetterberg will get a half-assist for running the two screens to make space for Pavel to work his magic. Holmstrom will pick up the screener's assist. Niemi is peeking to the right around Homer's screen to pick up the puck when Datsyuk feeds it to a wide-open Kronwall. This makes Niemi react late to the pass and gives him the opportunity to overcommit on the slide. Homer is also standing between Wallin and Kronwall, preventing the Sharks' defender from getting out to cut off the shot better. Datsyuk will get an extra half-plus for the way he pulls the puck off the boards and smartly runs the rush on this play.
3rd Period 00:54 - San Jose Goal: Logan Couture (backhand) from Dany Heatley
Detroit gets a three-man rush up ice as Stuart brings it in with Zetterberg and Holmstrom joining him. Detroit throws a puck on net that nearly gets through, but is blocked and rung around the boards. Bertuzzi steps in to try to keep it in, but Couture and Heatley team up to get it by him. Heatley then carries to the blue line on Kronwall before threading a pass over his stick to Logan Couture breaking in behind both Zetterberg and Stuart, who were both slow to get back on the rush. Couture fakes backhand, comes back across forehand and slides it under Howard as he comes across to make the save. I don't like Howard giving up this goal, despite the breakaway. I'm going to consider this one half-bad, but will leave some minuses in place. Bertuzzi and Kronwall will keep their minuses. They both let a puck get through them that shouldn't. Both Zetterberg and Stuart will pick up extra minuses. They both went in on the rush that led to the scoring chance, but they both also were not skating back hard enough to catch Couture. Holmstrom is the only player cleared of his minus.
3rd Period 3:43 - Detroit Goal: Jonathan Ericsson (wrist shot) from Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk
18 seconds after the expiration of the non-adjusted Heatley penalty, the Wings pull one goal closer to tied. Datsyuk brings it out of the Detroit zone as the time expires on the penalty, cutting to the wing and trying to dump it high over the defense to get it deep. Murray gets a glove on it and pushes it back past Datsyuk, but Homer is following up on the play and prevents the clear long enough for Zetterberg to join on the boards and help. Together, Z and Homer help push the puck deeper into the zone to Datsyuk in the corner. With Clowe draped on him, Datsyuk skates behind the net and threads a no-look backhander out front to Zetterberg. Heatley does a good job preventing the Zetterberg shot from going through, but the Wings are the beneficiary of a good bounce here as the puck slides across the slot to a pinching Jonathan Ericsson who uses his forward instincts to recognize the loose puck and lift it over a sprawling Niemi. Homer will get the third assist on this play for the crucial keep-in. Datsyuk will get a bonus half-assist for being the catalyst of another goal-scoring play.
3rd Period 5:29 - Detroit Goal: Danny Cleary (slap shot?) from Niklas Kronwall and Todd Bertuzzi
Not even two minutes later, Detroit ties the game on an ugly goal. The Sharks get a 3-on-2 rush where Marleau threads a beautiful cross-ice pass right where it would have gotten on Thornton's stick for a sure goal if the hustle by Abdelkader hadn't gotten him back to cancel out the stick. The puck rolls to the corner where Bertuzzi gets it and carries up ice. As he's pressured, he makes the smart play and bounces it off the boards out of the zone. Here, Cleary pulls it out of mid-air with his glove and skates up ice. Cleary gains the blue line with speed that's already carrying him toward the board. White positions himself to force the play to the outside while Marleau challenges Cleary from behind. Just inside the zone, Cleary drops it to Kronwall and charges the front of the net. Kronner immediately reverses the flow and lets Marleau fly right by him with a great deke to get himself a lane to the high slot. Kronner tries a low wrister with Bertuzzi and Cleary in front of the net. The puck goes just wide, but Cleary gathers it first and brings it around to the other side of the net where he tries to bank it off Setoguchi covering that far side. The puck is stopped the first time, but Cleary gets a stick on it again and this time is able to punch it home to tie the game. Justin Abdelkader will pull a full bonus plus for the backcheck on Thornton that saved a goal mere moments before Cleary tied it. Cleary will pull an assist for bringing the rush up ice and for sticking with the play on the attempt from behind the net.
3rd Period 13:52 - Detroit Goal: Tomas Holmstrom (tip in) from Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk
Datsyuk dumps a puck in to the San Jose zone that Niemi stops behind his own net. The Sharks have a brief communication breakdown, allowing Zetterberg to swoop in on the forecheck and steal the puck. Z carries to the corner where he and Datsyuk have a give-and-go pass that leaves Z with the puck skating high into the zone with Marleau chasing. Zetterberg is able to turn the puck back in from the blue line for a shot on net by Stuart that Holmstrom tips over the goal. Naturally, Zetterberg is the first one on the puck in the same corner he just pulled the puck from. Z tries to throw it on net, but it comes back out where White is the first man on it, but has Datsyuk to contend with. White is able to throw it up the boards weakly where he then follows it up to battle Zetterberg with the help of Marleau. The puck gets behind Zetterberg, but in the time that Marleau takes trying to pull the puck off the boards, Datsyuk swoops in and steals it away from him. Pavel carries in toward the faceoff dot while everybody collapses in on Niemi. Marleau challenges Datsyuk to prevent a shot, but can't separate the league's best dangler from the puck. Datsyuk controls, but can't get a puck on net with his back to the play now. Thankfully, he's a smart man and he realizes that nobody is covering Lidstrom at the point. The pass gets to the Wings' captain and he moves it into the middle of the zone with a lane. Lidstrom fires his typical perfect low slapper at the Holmstrom screen in front. Homer gets his stick on it and tips it over Niemi for the game-winner. Zetterberg does a lot of good work here to make this play happen. Z will get an assist and a bonus half-plus. Datsyuk will also get a bonus half-assist and half-plus for all of his work on the boards and with the great work keeping control of the puck while fighting off two defenders in the middle of the ice to open up the pass to Lidstrom.
Penalty Adjustment: Hard to be too mad at Abdelkader for saving what might have been a series-ending goal from Thornton, but he needlessly throws an elbow late in a game where the Wings have a one-goal lead to give the Sharks a chance on the power play. Abby will get a minus.
+1 to Henrik Zetterberg: a fantastic backcheck on Joe Thornton absolutely prevented a goal in the third period. It basically makes up for the lack of backcheck on the Couture goal.
+1 to Patrick Eaves and Darren Helm, +0.5 to Drew Miller: The two who got full pluses spent twice as much time PKing as Miller, but they each played very well at a man down to keep San Jose's power play off the board.
+0.5 to Niklas Kronwall: He played better in this one than in Game 4 when he had trouble controlling the puck. He made himself very noticeable in this one. Bottom line, this half-plus is for that Kronwalling he gave Clowe in the 2nd period in the game after the fight-instigating bitch asked specifically for it.
+0.5 to Valtteri Filppula: He should have gotten a full plus, but he went 33% in the faceoff dot and didn't get any of his three shot attempts on net (although two were VERY close). What he did do was keep his feet moving and the puck going in the right direction. Filppula was strong on the boards in this one.
Honorable Mentions: The Brad Stuart boarding penalty was pretty weak. Stuart met Couture shoulder-to-shoulder and didn't really throw him violently into the boards, as the rule states is the standard. I felt it was one of the best hits of the series. Thornton's hook on Datsyuk in the 2nd wasn't really a "drawn" penalty as much as it was Thornton being lazy. The same thing goes for the Heatley high-stick on Filppula early in the third.