The Red Wings had a few days off to relax in San Jose before trying to salvage something out of a disastrous California Road Trip which saw them get badly outplayed by both the Kings and Ducks. Detroit had a chance to damage San Jose's playoff chances as well as save their own chances of at least being .500 on the road this season.
None of those things happened.
The Sharks jumped on the Wings early, building a 2-0 lead on goals by Joe Pavelski in the first minute and Martin Havlat in the 18th. Fortunately, the return of Pavel Datsyuk also meant the return of answering goals, as Pavs brought the Wings back to within one just 23 seconds later. The 2nd period was a lot of back-and-forth hockey, but no goals. Valtteri Filppula tied it about midway through the third and the two teams played out the rest of regulation to earn a point.
The Overtime period lasted 3:23 before Martin Havlat heroically came over the boards and put a puck past a down-and-out Jimmy Howard to earn his 2nd goal and the Sharks the 2nd point and to send Detroit home from California with 1 out of a possible 6 points.
Let's get to the bullets.
- If this is how Brad Stuart is going to play in close proximity to his family, then I'm getting a lot more comfortable with the possibility of his leaving. Stuart had an absolutely brutal time getting pucks out of his own zone and... you know... covering people.
- Hey look, I made it all the way to bullet #2 before I got back to talking about the refs. That was absolutely atrocious. I get that Justin Abdelkader and Justin Braun thought that they could combine with Jimmy and form some sort of goal-crease Voltron and that there's plenty of blame to go for the Red Wings player, but look at that picture above and you fucking tell this guy to his face that there shouldn't have been a call. Go ahead, tell him.
- I think I'm most mad because this was an incredibly even game between two well-matched teams that had all of the playoff excitement people have come to love. Detroit didn't play as well as they should have (and could have to have prevented bullet #2 from being an issue), but the Sharks also didn't play well enough either for me to have said the slaptydicked reffing standard didn't piss all over an otherwise enjoyable game.
- 3-for-3 on the PK for the Wings was nice to see, but scary to watch. On the opposite end of that, 0-for-2 on the power play is horrible to see, but not bad to watch. Missing on two power play opportunities with puck movement like the Wings showed tonight doesn't concern me. Even as San Jose has the worst penalty killing at home this season, they still successfully kill of 7/10. That means more often than not, they're going to successfully kill 2 of 2.
- Johan Franzen didn't play in this one, as he still suffers from back spasms. I daresay I actually missed him, since I'm pretty sure the only thing that makes Mule angrier than playing the Sharks is having Jiri Hudler as his supervisor when it's his turn to sweep the stairs. Go ahead and add Darren Helm to the list of injuries while we're at it. Helm collided knee-on-knee with Dominic Moore in the third period and limped off. He did not return to the game.
- It's always weird to complain about the one line that has consistently produced this season, but the Jiri Hudler net-front experiment costs the Red Wings goals just about every game, it feels. I don't care if you have to hypnotize him or tattoo it on the lower back of every girl he ever takes home, but somebody needs to remind that guy to keep his damn stick on the ice in front of the net. I think he's afraid that if he does that, he might accidentally put it past the goaltender and that will cost him his opportunity to pass it off to a guy twenty feet higher in the zone with a backchecker covering his shooting lane.
- Obviously knowing that the Red Wings would never think of firing the coach of a playoff-bound team halfway through March, I think we don't have to go that far to simply say Babcock got outcoached in this game. It's harder as the visiting team, but the Wings' fourth line consistently got caught out there against better opposition and it very nearly cost them.
- Player of the game voting is between Filppula and Zetterberg. Cast your vote below.