Detroit was in San Jose to close out the season series against the Sharks. They fought a tight game against an old foe, coming out on top 2-1. Here's how it went down.
The game started with a real good pace, both teams trading a few chances (the best being a net-front chance off an Abdelkader turnover). I'm not sure there was a whistle between the game's start and the first TV timeout. From that point, San Jose found ways to get more zone time and shots off, though the Wings did a good job of keeping those to the outside and clearing rebounds. Fortunately, shots only count if they go in and the Wings got the first one of those, as Danny DeKeyser joined a rush with Larkin and Zetterberg to get open for a top corner snipe past Jones.
Unfortunately, the lead wouldn't last long, as a defensive zone draw about 90 seconds later went to Burns at the top of the zone for a slapper that found its way to Joel Ward's stick in traffic and past Mrazek. The Wings got a few good chances after that, but nothing doing before Luke Glendening takes a high-sticking penalty at 14:28. Thankfully, Drew Miller's return foretold the killing of this penalty, and it was so. Just under two minutes to go in the period and Detroit's PK gets another workout on a brutally soft holding call against Glendening.
Overall, the Sharks started a bit stronger, but I thought the Wings reacted well. Decent road period, but plenty to improve on.
Shots: 16-12 Sharks
Standout Players: Larkin, Jurco
Tough Period: Abdelkader, Datsyuk, Glendening
The Wings kill off the 9 seconds of penalty to start the period and then start getting in on the San Jose zone, but that doesn't last too long as just over three minutes in, Larkin takes a real bad tripping call in the offensive zone. The Wings kill this one off as well, keeping the San Jose PP fairly high in the zone where they're less dangerous. The rest of the period up until about the 15 minute mark just kind of happened before Smith and Hertl took offsetting minors to make it 4-on-4 for a bit.
Finally, the Wings get their first power play of the night as Zubrus holds Marchenko heading in on a forecheck. The Wings don't score, but carry over 46 seconds of PP time into the third.
Overall, the Sharks outplayed the Wings in the 2nd, but it was a mostly boring period.
Shots: 26-18 SJS
Standout Players: Mrazek
Tough Period: Helm, Pretty much anybody responsible for up-ice transition
The Wings get one good chance on the PP to start the period, but Datsyuk misses Zetterberg with the pass and things die off. The Sharks' forecheck continues to cause problems clearing the zone, but the Wings also get a pretty long shift in the Sharks' zone. Larkin trips over the blue line to lose a breakaway during a bad Sharks change.
Again, we had about ten minutes of boredom from that point, but the Sharks' forecheck really starts putting pressure on about 12 minutes in, getting a couple real high quality chances, including one by Ward that Mrazek makes a dazzling save on. Naturally, the follow-up on that play is the Wings getting a rebound off Martin Jones that Abdelkader gets to step into for a slapshot goal out of the high slot to make it 2-1 Wings.
Amazingly, the Wings draw their second power play of the night with 2:53 left as Glendening gets interfered with. Wings play like like a power kill to get the two minutes gone and prepare for the Sharks to pull Jones with under a minute. The Wings get a good clear by Abdelkader and then force the Sharks to ice it. The game ends with Joe Thornton throwing a big 'ol angry temper tantrum because he lost.
Score: 2-1 Detroit
Shots: 36-25 Sharks
Standout Players: Glendening, Abdelkader, Mrazek
Tough Period: Green, Sheahan, Ericsson, Tatar
- The Wings went through long periods of looking like a counter-punch team that kept forgetting to throw punches. San Jose was content to take shots from the outside looking for juicy rebounds and the Wings simply could not catch them with good breakout passes.
- We'll have plenty of time to unpack this game before Sunday night's tilt in Anaheim, but I'm going to take a bit more time being happy we got the win without being concerned that the Sharks pretty handily outplayed Detroit and if it weren't for another stellar goaltending performance, we'd be looking at the team to explain to us the effort.
- Specifically, the problem in this game was that it felt like the Wings were too committed to their lanes, even when it became apparent that the Sharks weren't respecting the position they were supposed to be in for them to be well-defended. Too many board battles ended up with two Sharks forwards going up against one Wings defender while the two nearest Detroit teammates were waiting for a pass that it would be extremely hard for the lone person to get around that pressure.
- Special teams were half-good. The PK certainly did play pretty well (if you want to credit that entirely to the return of Drew Miller just like FS-D did, you're welcome to, I guess). The Wings only allowed two shots on net in six minutes of shorthanded time, so that's real good. Personally, I think the Sharks' PP setup of lining three guys up high plays really well into the Wings' wedge +1 PK strategy. The power play only had two chances; one was split by a period end and another was late in the game with the Wings trying to protect a lead. They're still not running the PP well.
Player of the Game: Petr Mrazek