The San Jose Sharks (33-6-5) grabbed a three-point lead in the Western Conference with a 6-5 win over the Detroit Red Wings (31-8-6) at HP Pavilion on Saturday night. In front of a great crowd, the two teams had a western showdown resulting in one of the best games of the season in terms of excitement. Unfortunately for Wings fans, the end result was not a win despite Detroit grabbing the lead twice in the effort.
I can't verify this data but someone stated that in all of the NHL games, these two teams had the highest average winning percentage (.787) of opponents in a single game. While Detroit's only home game against San Jose ended up with a 6-0 victory, we saw a much closer game Saturday night as these two teams battled it out. It took two third period breakaway goals to seal the second victory over Detroit for the Sharks this season.
To be honest, this game reminded me of the Detroit-Pittsburgh game early in the season where both teams just traded goals and the level of excitement was as close to that playoff atmosphere as you can get in the regular season. Marian Hossa agreed in a comment he made to Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press.
"It was like a playoff game," Marian Hossa said after producing a goal and two assists. "There was a little bit of everything – offense, physical, loud arena. It was a great, exciting hockey game, but obviously it is a little disappointing – I think we deserve at least a point. I think we play well. We were hitting and they were hitting. I think it was pretty even physical game."
San Jose nabbed the lead with the first goal of the game at 2:59 courtesy of Dan Boyle. Detroit responded 1:08 later with a goal by Valtteri Filppula in his 200th career NHL game. The tally marked his first one in 14 games. With last night's goal, Filppula earned his 20th point of the season giving Detroit a league-high 12 players with at least 20 points. At 7:22, San Jose scored again and the Sharks held a 2-1 lead for the rest of the first period.
Marian Hossa opened the scoring in the second period with a power-play goal at 1:24. He posted a team-high 22nd goal this season on a shot from inside the top of the left faceoff circle that came from a nice feed from linemate Pavel Datsyuk. Detroit now has a power-play goal in 10 of the last 11 games.
Datsyuk would work his magic nearly three minutes later when he made a gorgeous Datsyukian deke on San Jose's Mike Grier before dishing the puck to Johan Franzen, who had the left side of the net wide open. While Franzen played for the rest of the second period, he did leave the game early in the third due to a strained hip injury according to Ansar Khan at MLive.com. The Mule stated that there was no specific moment of injury. He will be checked on Monday when the team practices in Phoenix.
"It's a little bit from this morning. By the end of the second (period) I couldn't put any pressure on the legs,'' Franzen said.
Nicklas Lidstrom, Niklas Kronwall, and Henrik Zetterberg managed to successfully kill a 5-on-3 penalty that lasted 1:29, but were unable to kill that second penalty. San Jose responded at 7:56 on that man advantage. With 4:23 remaining in the second frame, Zetterberg scored a goal of his own to give the lead back to the Wings. Hank won the faceoff, Hossa took a shot, Dan Cleary was down front trying to push the puck in, but it was Zetterberg picking up the rebound who put it past Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov.
San Jose would score three straight goals starting with 1:05 left in the second period on the power play. The next two goals came on breakaways at 10:18 and 13:24 of the final stanza. Wings defenseman Brian Rafalski brought the score back within one goal at 18:04, but Detroit was unable to tie it up with an extra attacker to send the game into overtime.
Christy' s Red Wing of the Game: Henrik Zetterberg
While you could argue that Hossa or Datsyuk are deserving of this honor (and you wouldn't be wrong), I'm going to go with Hank today. Zetterberg had a goal and an assist in the contest and was also one of three players to successfully kill of a 1:29 5-on-3 Sharks advantage.
|2008 - Henrik Zetterberg||43||17||25||42||15||20||7||0||2||0||168||10.1|
Detroit and San Jose have one more game remaining in the season series with the Sharks currently leading it 2-1. The next matchup will take place at the Joe on February 25th.
The Wings will get two days of relaxing in Phoenix with the fathers/mentors before taking on the Coyotes on Tuesday night at 9:00 p.m.