Sharks' offense explodes for a goal, yet somehow still falls in shootout loss to Red Wings

The Sharks offense continues to struggle after a 2-1 shootout loss to the Detroit Wings.

Hey remember when I said this in the game preview?:

Bottom line, things are slanted favorably to the Sharks in this game. San Jose will be facing a team they've beaten up on lately, that's pretty banged up, on the second night of a back-to-back swing, against their back-up netminder. You couldn't write a better prescription for an anemic offense.

I was so young and naive back then.

Let's get to that recap.

Things actually started pretty decently for the Sharks offense. They didn't score in the first period, but the line combinations for the top six looked good early. Patrick Marleau had a couple good bursts of speed through the neutral zone, and the new 'nines line' (Couture, Thornton, and Havlat) had some great opportunities. Thornton and Havlat looked like they could run a Sedin-like cycle for the entire game. Even Ryane Clowe ended up with a breakaway chance, but couldn't beat Jonas Gustavsson, one of the worst goaltenders in the NHL.

The second period looked very similar to the first. The Thornton line appeared to be matched up with Datsyuk all night. Both sides got chances, but I think San Jose got the better of it. Frustratingly, that line created a 2-on-1 in the second period, but didn't even generate a scoring chance. Thornton was looking to pass it, but Havlat seemed like he was moving at half speed as he fell way behind. The Wings defense was able to break it up when Joe tried to force it across. Still, neither team was able to beat the other's goaltender. It remained 0-0 after two periods.

Thornton would make up for his failed chance though 4:49 into the third. Fresh off the bench, Couture and Thornton combined to steal a puck from Justin Abdelkader at the Detroit blueline. Thornton set up Couture for a wicked one-timer from just below the faceoff dot that beat Gustavsson short side past the glove. The Sharks had finally broken through for the first goal of the game and a rare lead. That wouldn't last very long.

Pavel Datsyuk seemed determined to tie it up on the next shift. He dangled through a couple Sharks and threw it in front. Daniel Cleary grabbed it, spun around and fired it toward the net. Antti Niemi stretched out a leg pad and made a huge save. The Red Wings would continue the pressure, however. Tomas Tatar, who created quite a few chances in this game, would pick up a puck that bounced off the end-boards and fired it back to the blue-line. Ericsson quickly sent it over to Nicklas Kronwall for a huge blast. The puck would bounce off the leg of Patrick Eaves in front of the net past Niemi to tie the game 6:21 into the period.

The teams continued to trade chances, but possibly the best one three came from the Marleau-Gomez-Pavelski line midway through. Marleau grabbed a puck thrown toward the net and threw it off the leg pads of Gustavsson. He'd grab his own rebound and fire it off the near post. That would then bounce off a Red Wing in the crease back to Marleau at the side of the net, but Patty shot it off the side of the cage. The last few minutes featured more chances for each side, as well as the longest, most boring board battle ever, but it stayed 1-1 until the end of regulation.

In overtime, the Red Wings outworked the Sharks for the majority of chances. That included Zetterberg and Brunner nearly ending the game twice in one shift on passes right into the slot. Neither team was able to convert though, and the Sharks would go to the shootout again.

Unfortunately, Michal Handzus couldn't do the thing he's good at, and he was stopped in the shootout. Datsyuk was relatively unimpressive as well, and Niemi made the stop. Patrick Marleau came close to scoring, but Gustavsson got a piece of his shot with the glove and kept it out of the net. The only player to get a goal was Damien Brunner, who stuttered and fired it past Niemi in the second round. It all came down to Clowe, but he missed the net on a forehand shot.

Final score: 2-1 Red Wings in the shootout. This drops the Sharks to #9 in the Western Conference with a 9-6-4 record on the season.

FTF Three Stars

1st Star: Antti Niemi

2nd Star: Jonas Gustavsson

3rd Star: Logan Couture

You know, there was another part of that quote I left out:

If the Sharks can't start scoring tonight, something may have to change.

I miss offense. In the last month, the Sharks have scored 3 goals once, and have one regulation win. Can we make a change now? Go Sharks.