Photo courtesy of Kelley Cox @ US Presswire.
Whenever the San Jose Sharks and Detroit Red Wings get together for a game of ice hockey the on-ice product is simply beautiful. The atmosphere, talent level, and finishes are all absolutely electric, night in and night out.
Tonight was no exception.
Martin Havlat scored twice for San Jose, including the overtime game-winner that brought the house down, to lead the Sharks to a 3-2 overtime victory over the Detroit Red Wings in a game that featured end to end action for nearly the entire tilt. Havlat now has three goals in three games and yet tonight he scored his first goal in three months.
How about that for some symmetry.
Joe Pavelski added a goal for San Jose in the opening minute, while Pavel Datsyuk and Valtteri Filppula added tallies for Detroit.
The Sharks would get out to an excellent start to the game, scoring a goal in the first two minutes for the third time in the last four games. Following a poor defensive clear from the zone by Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi, the Sharks would get a puck on Jimmy Howard that kicked out to the waiting stick of Joe Pavelski. With Logan Couture providing an excellent screen in front Pavelski would rifle the puck past Howard to give San Jose the early lead.
The home town team would carry the play for the first ten minutes of the period, generating some solid puck movement and chances on a power play despite the lack of finish. Detroit would push back in the last ten minutes of the frame as they always seem to do however, picking up a few glorious chances of their own. With Dominic Moore in the box the Red Wings would send a flurry of shots to the net, but Niemi would stand tall with a few great saves of his own to keep the puck out of the net. He would get some help from Douglas Murray on one of those chances, with the big Krogan-esque defenseman sliding over to block a shot that had an eye on twine.
Havlat would score his first of the game after that big penalty kill when he came down the ice and sniped Jimmy Howard from the top of the circles. It would give the Sharks their first two goal lead since February 26th against Minnesota, but wouldn't last for long as the Wings would answer a mere 23 seconds later.
With possession of the puck along the halfboards, resident magician Pavel Datsyuk would give Joe Thornton a little head bob and shoulder fake to open up some space for him to work with. Driving to the net he saw a hole that Niemi left open on the near side, wristing a shot that defied the laws of physics and cut San Jose's lead in half.
Detroit would take that momentum into the first ten minutes of the second period as they began to control the flow of play and make a significant push in the Sharks defensive zone. Former Sharks defenseman Ian White would beat Niemi but fail to beat the post, clanking one off the iron and sending it out of harm's way.
As is customary between these two teams however, San Jose would pick it up in the second half of the frame and generate chances of their own. Daniel Winnik would have a beautiful chance in front of the net, but a rolling puck would force him to push it just wide.
In the third period Detroit would take advantage of a long Sharks shift and a Henrik Zetterberg pick on Marc-Edouard Vlasic at the blueline. The Sharks would clear the zone but fail to get it deep enough to ease the pressure; Valtteri Filppula would pick the puck up at the blueline and coast into the Sharks defensive zone, pick his spot, and put one into the corner to even the score at two.
Some solid play from both teams would close out the third period, with Ryane Clowe receiving a glorious chance with 30 seconds left in the third that wouldn't go.
It all lead to overtime where the Martin Havlat Carnival pulled into town with streamers and party hats in tow.
With Dominic Moore carrying the puck into the zone, and making a helluva play to control the puck and fend off a collapsing Wings defense, Havlat would locate the puck and put one on net. Howard would make the initial save, but a determined Havlat fought to the net and located the rebound opportunity before wristing the puck into the back of the net to give the Sharks the win.
Overall this game was an excellent one, with both teams competing hard and generating scoring chances and shots that probably ended up equal at the culmination of the night. End to end action is commonplace amongst these two teams and tonight was no exception. Dan Boyle's skating ability stood out tonight, and it's safe to say that Valtteri Filppula has truly arrived as a dynamic player for the Red Wings who strengthens their offensive depth in preparation for the playoff run. San Jose's third line had a very strong game as well, with Daniel Winnik, Torrey Mitchell, and Dominic Moore turning in an excellent performance that should make them a very interesting line to watch down the stretch.
The Sharks will have tomorrow off before a two-game set against their division rivals the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings.