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Wings Lose The "Cutefest": Sharks 5 - Wings 2

Talk about role-reversal. The Red Wings came back after a successful west coast road trip looking to start another winning streak after an OT loss against the Kings on Saturday night. Unfortunately, the Sharks came in to the Joe looking to continue their win-loss-win-loss thing they've got going on, and they lost their last game. Only one team was going to get their way, and it was not going to be the Wings.

The Wings got off to a great start, and they opened the scoring on the power play when Tomas Holmstrom tipped in a Nicklas Lidstrom shot. It looked like the Wings opened up a 2-0 lead, but the dreaded "quick whistle" reared its ugly head, wiping a would-be Todd Bertuzzi goal off the books. The Wings looked poised to increase their lead anyway, but a horrible sequence of events led to a Joe Thornton shorthanded goal. The Wings got the lead back on a gorgeous passing play, finished off by Johan Franzen. The Wings took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission, and it could easily have been more.

However, despite the Wings' best efforts to end the game at that point, the second period started, and quicker than you can say "we've got this" the Wings were down 3-2. Another odd-man rush late in the second made it 4-2, but we all held out hope that the Wings would come back in the third. However, the Sharks really clamped down (something that has been lacking this year for them), and added a late insurance goal. The Wings never really threatened to come back at any point past the halfway mark of the second period, and when all was said and done, the Sharks left the Joe with a 5-2 victory.

While the start was nice, the ending was ugly. No need to dwell on this too much, but let's get to the bullets after the jump.

Let's just get to it.

  • The Wings played one of their best first periods of the season, getting 16 shots on net and controlling play throughout the entire 20 minutes. At one point they were dominating the game so much that the Sharks had to use their time out. The only blemish from that period was the shortie by Thornton, but they immediately followed that with a goal. It was a great display and like I said, the Wings could have been up 3 or 4-1 instead of just having the 1 goal lead.
  • However, the Wings decided that the second period was something they weren't interested in participating in, and the two goals in 8 seconds really felt like a death knell for the game. After that, the Wings just seemed to kind of sit back, and the Sharks really took the game over. Once again the Wings had a lot of problems with the Sharks' forechecking, and the Wings really just stopped doing everything they were doing in the first period. The third was boring as all get-out, as the Sharks essentially sat on their two-goal lead while the Wings never really got any sustained offensive pressure. The 5th Sharks goal pretty much sealed the deal.
  • Mike Babcock has got to be one of the coaches that interviewers salivate over. His one-on-one with Lindsay Soto in the second period was awesome. After decrying the "cuteness" of the Wings' play in the second period, he then had no problems admitting that the goaltender interference penalty on Tomas Holmstrom was crap. Name another coach that does that in the middle of a national broadcast. Ed Olczyk made a point to mention that Babs has never won the Jack Adams Trophy, and that's because the description for the trophy should read "Coach who took the crappiest team to the biggest improvement from last year".
  • Speaking of Edzo, good gravy do I loathe the Versus announcers. I miss Ken and Mickey, but that's just because I'm a peon who needs my homer announcers to tell me whether I like what I'm seeing or not. At one point my daughter turned on a Christmas ornament that plays Jingle Bells over and over again, and that was more welcome than listening to the announcers tonight. But that's a personal thing.
  • Hey, Ryan Clowe: how about instead of going after Kronwall for a beautiful hit, you remember that in hockey school, the first thing they teach you is to keep your head up. Don't be such a baby.
  • I have been critical of Tomas Holmstrom this year, but there is no one else I'd rather have in front of the net on a power play than him. Ever.
  • Jiri Hudler (I just let out a heavy sigh after typing that). I give up. That's all I can say. At one point it looked like he was going to get a 2-on-1 rush, and instead of driving the net, he attempted a cute behind-the-back pass that was intercepted. Jiri, if you have only scored one goal all year, and it was because of a freak bounce, you have no business attempting cute little plays like that. Take the puck to the net and get a shot off.
  • The question must be asked: how huge was that waved-off goal? If that counts, the Wings are up 2-0, they have all the momentum in the world, and it's an entirely different game. From what I can tell, this was not one of those "intent to blow" situations that we're so used to. However, even at full speed, it seemed pretty clear that Niemi never had the puck. It's a shame that it didn't count, and I'm not going to say that it cost them a win. But the entire complexion of the game is different if that goal counts. Food for thought.

No one on the Wings was particularly good tonight. We'll get the poll up for PotG, but the pickings are slim. San Jose came in looking to "avenge" last week's loss, and they did that, I guess. Much like the Wings getting some sort of "revenge" for last year's playoff loss, I think things like that are used by the team and fans to get excited for a game in mid-December. It was a well-played game by the Sharks, particularly Antti Niemi, who kept them in the game in the first period. The Wings will need a much better effort going forward as they face a schedule that includes a lot of games in a short amount of time.