It wasn’t pretty, but the Sharks played just well enough last night to eke by the Red Wings and get back to .500 on the season. Martin Jones’ improved play and a trio of even strength goals put San Jose on the winning side of a game in which it was territorially dominated—a welcome alternative to the dominant losses to which Sharks fans have grown accustomed in recent years.
When the Red Wings scored on their second shot just three and a half minutes in to put the Sharks in yet another early hole, it looked like this game was going to follow the script we’ve seen too many times since the 4–0 start. Instead, Jones stepped up, making 25 more saves and not allowing another goal until the final minutes when the Sharks had a two goal lead. He bailed his teammates out after sloppy plays on multiple occasions, and the goal he allowed at the end looked like it deflected off of Justin Braun’s leg. Jones—and the Sharks—needed a game like this after allowing 22 goals in his last eight games with an .879 SV%.
It’s a good thing Jones was on his game, because not a single Shark finished with a positive Corsi. Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski both managed to play the Red Wings even, but everyone not named Joe was below 50 percent. At even strength, only Matt Tennyson was over 41 percent. The new fourth line of Matt Nieto, Chris Tierney, and Mike Brown got demolished, Nieto’s goal notwithstanding, with all finishing below 20 percent. It’ll be interesting to see whether Pete DeBoer shuffles his lines again tonight or keeps them relatively intact following the win.
Overall, the Sharks attempted only 27 shots to the Red Wings’ 53. At even strength, it was even worse, with the Wings attempting more than twice as many shots as the Sharks. It wasn’t score effects, either—Detroit started to pull away after Melker Karlsson’s game-tying goal and it only got worse from there. In the entire third period, the Sharks only attempted three shots, though at that point they had a two goal lead. It was an unexpectedly poor showing against a Red Wings team that has talent but that had also struggled territorially in its first 15 games. With Logan Couture out for a few more weeks, the Sharks will have to play a lot better than they did last night or this could be a very long road trip.