Marleau, Couture and Niemi are awesome against Red Wings
In a very even match up in Detroit, the Sharks defeat the Red Wings 3-2 in a shootout.
As you may expect, the line blender hit the Sharks before the game against the Red Wings even started tonight. Most notably, Patrick Marleau and Martin Havlat swapped places from the projected lines. T.J. Galiardi got into the game as well, with James Sheppard taking a seat.
Things got started very quickly in Detroit tonight. Just 56 seconds into the game, Tommy Wingels took a penalty for finishing a check on an icing call. On the resulting Detroit power play, Pavel Datsyuk moved the puck across the slot on a quick pass, leaving Antti Niemi out of position. Luckily, the pass was picked off and Joe Pavelski raced up the ice with Patrick Marleau on a 2-on-1. Pavelski threw it past Niklas Kronwall to the stick of Marleau who buried it. 1-0 Sharks. Marleau from Pavelski at 2:35 of the first period.
The Sharks would easily kill of the rest of the penalty and continue to dominate the period. The line of Galiardi, Joe Thornton and Raffi Torres was able to get a few chances early on. There were also quite a few times where the Sharks were causing absolute chaos in front of the net. The first came when Brent Burns fought for a loose puck, fell to the ice, but still got a pass off to the slot where Martin Havlat took a big shot. On another mad pile up in front of the net, Logan Couture found a loose puck and tried to chip it over a body or two. It bounced off Henrik Zetterberg and then off the top of the net. The Wings got a few similar chances as well, but Niemi was strong. San Jose held the 1-0 lead after one, outshooting Detroit 11-5.
San Jose kept that momentum going early in the second, but the Red Wings did push back. Antti Niemi made some spectacular saves. Eight minutes into the period, there was a scramble in front of Niemi. The rebound bounced to the side of the net and as Niemi fell to his side, he swatted down shot to keep the Sharks in the lead. But the Wings kept pushing. Shortly after, Johan Franzen pushes a puck free from Braun along the boards, moves behind net, and centers for Justin Abdelkader right in front who tucks it in. 1-1 tie. Abdelkader from Franzen and Smith at 9:51 of the second period.
Todd McLellan's line blender went into full effect after the goal, and we started to see lines similar to those that were originally seen at practice yesterday. Patrick Marleau did get a few more chances in the second, but not enough to balance out the dominant second by Detroit. The Wings outshot the Sharks 12-8 in the second period as it ended all knotted up at 1-1.
Although San Jose did start to turn the tide again late in the second, all that momentum was lost early in the third. Burns took a holding penalty on Zetterberg 1:23 in. Midway through the powerplay, Datsyuk poked the poke to Zetterberg, who grabbed it and drove low. Every Shark was watching him, and not Jakub Kindl, who was alone in the slot. Pass made it to him for the one-time. 2-1 Detroit. Kindl from Zetterberg and Datsyuk at 2:29 of the third. The team was guilty of watching the puck too much, but few people besides Datsyuk and Zetterberg could have pulled it off.
Torres and Wingels provided some good push after the goal, and Brendan Smith took a hold on Tommy Wingels. On the powerplay, Marleau had a couple more huge chances, but it would be Couture to tie it up. Set up in the offensive zone, Thornton took shot from the top of the circle with Couture in front. The rebound came off Howard's pad and fell just past Couture. He spun and grabbed it on backhand, roofing it over Howard's pad in one quick motion. 2-2 tie. Couture from Thornton and Boyle at 4:00 of the third period. As the great Jason Plank once said: "Logan Couture is a dirty, filthy man. Tell all your friends."
The line blender continued to mix things up down the stretch, and both teams traded chances. Raffi Torres found himself on a beautiful breakaway, but shot it just wide. It was the most relieved many Sharks fans have ever been about a missed San Jose shot. Regulation ended with the Sharks out-shooting the Red Wings 29-28.
The overtime period itself was almost a glorified shootout. San Jose would get a good chance, and Detroit would immediately follow back. Logan Couture and Henrik Zetterberg both put the team's on their back at one point and both nearly won it one right after the other. The two traded blows this way until the end of the OT period.
Overtime was great, but, dare I say, the shootout was even better. Seriously, if you can find highlights for the entire shootout, go watch it right now. If not, here's the play-by-play:
-Pavel Datsyuk went first. He came in on a slow approach, but quickly went to backhand and put Detroit up 1-0.-Couture quickly answered back, putting a quick backhand through the five-hole of Jimmy Howard. 1-1.-Damien Brunner was next. He dangled in, and possibly could have beaten Niemi on the far side, but somehow pulled it back on a gorgeous toe drag. Fittingly, Niemi bested him on a gorgeous toe save.-Joe Pavelski took a shot that beat howard, but landed on the goal line, never crossing it.-Gustav Nyquist came in with all the speed in the world and tried for the spin-o-rama. Again, Niemi just stretched the back leg out enough to stop it.-Patrick Marleau, with a chance for the win, stick-handled in and sniped Howard on a quick shot to the five-hole. 2-1 Sharks.
Sharks win 3-2 in a shootout.
- I don't know whether it was the line blender or just the fact that they were playing Detroit, but Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton seemed to have the hustle back in their step. Still some turnovers for Jumbo, but that's how he plays. Patty was playing like the Super Marleau we saw at the start of the year.
- Gomez seemed to drive play pretty well after being benched in the previous game. The guy still needs to shoot a bit more on the powerplay though.
- Derek pretty much nailed it when describing Brent Burns to Winging it in Motown earlier today when he used the phrase "reckless abandon." Burns caused chaos tonight, good and bad.
- If San Jose would have defeated Detroit in regulation, the Ducks would have clinched a playoff spot. Thank you, loser point. Suck it, Anaheim!
FTF 3 Stars
1st star: Patrick Marleau
2nd star: Logan Couture
3rd star: Antti Niemi
With the win, the Sharks find themselves 4th in the Western Conference (Pending the result of the Los Angeles-Columbus game). Back at it on Saturday in Dallas. Go Sharks!