Not Winging It- The San Jose Sharks welcomed their former conference rivals in the Detroit Red Wings to the Shark Tank Thursday night. By the end of the evening the Red Wings were reminded just how tough it is to do business at the Tank if you’re the visitor. Joe Pavelski had two goals while Antti Niemi made 24 saves as Team Teal took care of the Red Wings 4-1 before another sold out house. The win was an important one as it allowed the Sharks to keep a two point lead over the LA Kings while also keeping pace with the Anaheim Ducks in the Pacific Division standings. Andrew Desjardins and Dan Boyle also put pucks in the net for the Sharks as Team Teal broke open a tie game scoring three unanswered goals in the second period. While Niemi was able to make some strong saves between the pipes for Team Teal, it was a decidedly different evening for Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard who was pulled after two periods despite 19 saves. Sharks Captain Joe Thornton had two more assist Thursday night while Brent Burns, Marc-Edoaurd Vlasic, Brad Stuart, Jason Demers and Justin Braun also had assist each as well. Thornton now has 45 assists for the season, on average of one per game for the Sharks (who played their 45th game Thursday night).
Two Periods In One- The Sharks came out of the gate getting some good looks in the Red Wings zone and putting plenty of early rubber towards Howard, who was able to fend off some early Team Teal chances. Howard was able to turn away two scoring chances from Braun and one from Tyler Kennedy. At the 4:59 mark of the period, having just won a face-off at their own end of the ice the Sharks were able to go on a three on two break away up the ice. Thornton having been fed the puck from Burns at the blue line was able to find Pavelski who had some space between himself and the nearest Red Wing defenseman. Pavelski took the feed pass from Thornton and hammered the puck past Howard on the right corner of the net to give the Sharks the early 1-0 lead. The Sharks were able to keep some of the momentum after the goal however at the same time the score also seemed to wake up the Red Wings and get their undivided attention as well. Soon Detroit was starting to keep the puck for some extended periods of time in the Team Teal zone, however Niemi was strong in the net and was able to turn away a total of 11 Detroit shots on goal for the period. The one Niemi could not stop came off the stick of Tomas Tatar at 16:48 of the opening period. Tatar after holding the puck for several seconds behind the Sharks net was able to skate around to the right of the net and flick a backhanded wrister over Niemi’s left shoulder. The puck hit the inside of the net top shelf. Niemi had no time to dwell on the goal he just gave up as he had to stand tall in net almost immediately afterward. Niemi was able to turn away good scoring chances by Drew Miller and again by Tatar before the first period ended.
Second Period Trifecta- The Sharks and Red Wings would spend almost half of the second period exchanging puck possessions and scoring chances with both goalies being very active. The Sharks had an early chance on a power play that carried over from the end of the first period but could not get anything past Howard despite some good chances, including a blistering shot on goal from Burns. At the 9:44 mark of the middle period Bracken Kearns was able to feed the puck to Desjardins near center ice along the left boards. With the Red Wings Jakub Kindl in front of him, Desjardins was able to flip the puck over him and at the same time also skate around Kindl as well. Desjardins regaining possession of the rubber biscuit immediately drilled a shot that beat Howard to his right. Howard had the net fairly well closed off but somehow Desjardins shot on goal was able to thread a needle and find the only open area where it could go into the net. Just over two minutes later Pavelski got his second goal of the game and 21st of the season as he was able to knock in a rebound of Stuart’s shot from the left point. The rebound landed at Pavelski’s skates and he had no problem knocking the puck into an open are of the net. Moments afterward with the Sharks on a power play thanks to interference call to the Red Wings Kyle Quincey, Dan Boyle scored his eighth goal of the season to give the Sharks a three goal lead and a good deal of breathing room. After the second period, Howard was lifted from the game for Petr Mrazek who would play the final period in-goal for the Red Wings.
Third Period Chippiness- Neither team scored in the final period as the Sharks defensively were able to successfully shut down any Red Wings thoughts of getting back into the game late. The Red Wings were held to only five shots on goal in the final period. However the final period of this game may be remembered more some of the chippiness that reminded both teams that in some ways there still is somewhat of a rivalry. With just over five minutes remaining in the game Tyler Kennedy of the Sharks and Kyle Quincey of the Red Wings started throwing punches at each other after they both apparently decided they had enough of one another. Almost a minute later the Red Wings’ Todd Bertuzzi exchanged pleasantries with Tommy Wingles and Vlasic. With just under two minutes remaining in the contest Detroit’s Dan Clearly decided to give Scott Hannan an elbow to the head. Hannan, not exactly appreciating Cleary’s gesture immediately chased him down and the two mixed it up in the corner with Hannan getting the better of the exchange of blows. On the evening it was the Sharks who as a team got the better end of the evening’s exchanges.
Twitter Quote- “Tonight, we got back on track & played solid for 60.” – Joe Thornton on the Sharks more focused performance (courtesy @SanJoseSharks)
Next Sharks Game- The Sharks take on the Boston Bruins at the Shark Tank Saturday Night (Jan. 11th). The puck drops at 7:30pm (PT).
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