San Jose Sharks Score at Will vs. Detroit Red Wings

Joe Pavelski's leadership had as much to with the Stanley Cup finals run by the San Jose Sharks as anything else. Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Pavelski's leadership had as much to with the Stanley Cup finals run by the San Jose Sharks as anything else. Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports /

The offensively-challenged San Jose Sharks score at will against the Detroit Red Wings Saturday, Jan. 7…

The Detroit Red Wings were the first team to let the San Jose Sharks score five goals this 2016-17 NHL season. In fact, the SAP Center horn sounded six times on Saturday, Jan. 7.

The Sharks did not have their trademark defensive prowess Saturday, giving up 35 shots and three goals. Thus, the timing of this offensive explosion was perfect.

The Red Wings fell below .500 (17-18-5) with the regulation loss. They scored three goals in both games of the season series, winning 3-0 in October.

Related Story: Detroit Red Wings Shutout Ensures Failed San Jose Sharks Road Trip

San Jose was the last team to score five goals in a game this 2016-17 NHL season. It took 40 games to reach that plateau.

In the process, the Sharks snapped their three-game losing streak while Marc-Edouard Vlasic has been out of the lineup. Their lead over the Anaheim Ducks reached a full game when the four-time defending Pacific Division champions lost Sunday.

San Jose beat Detroit with strong blue-line play in Vlasic’s absence. For instance, four of the six players dressed scored two points.

Scoring Plays

Nov 18, 2014; Buffalo, NY, USA; San Jose Sharks defenseman Mirco Mueller (41) shoots on the Buffalo Sabres net during the third period at First Niagara Center. Sabres beat the Sharks 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Mirco Mueller helped the San Jose Sharks score six goals against the Detroit Red Wings Saturday, Jan. 7: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports /

Perhaps more importantly, Mirco Mueller was part of the first two scores. His play was critical for the Sharks to turn an early deficit into a lead they never relinquished.

However, the Red Wings scored first just 12:49 into the game. Justin Braun was the victim twice on the play, sullying an otherwise solid performance. He took a giveaway for dumping the puck in from the neutral zone. He then got his minus when his skate deflected the subsequent Thomas Vanek shot past goalie Martin Jones.

Mueller dropped a pass almost three minutes later that Tommy Wingels fired in off Joonas Donskoi to tie the game. Then San Jose took the lead for good 90 seconds later.

This time, Mueller slapped a feed from blue-line partner Dylan DeMelo through traffic. Patrick Marleau extended that lead 29 seconds before intermission when his shot on the rush deflected off a defender’s stick. Joel Ward earned an assist on both goals.

The second period was scoreless. However, Joe Pavelski scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal for the Sharks 1:50 into the third. It was another Brent Burns shot-pass deflection from the slot.

Neither Burns nor San Jose were done. His shot 2:21 later went in off the struggling Mikkel Boedker for that elusive fifth score. With that, Paul Martin earned a secondary assist on a second consecutive goal.

However, Detroit was not done either. Thirty-two seconds later, Anthony Mantha backhanded a Drew Miller wrister home.

Pavelski needed almost six minutes to put the game away for good. Joe Thornton got his stick on the puck and directed it to the captain on the weak side to bat home. Andreas Athanaciou lit the lamp to round out scoring just over three minutes later, matching Vanek’s goal and assist Saturday.

Feb 5, 2015; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; San Jose Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic (44) warms up against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena. The San Jose Sharks won 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
It is encouraging to see the San Jose Sharks score six without their elite blue-liner, Marc-Edouard Vlasic: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports /

Beyond Scoring

The law of averages finally caught up with the Sharks—in this case a positive. A fortuitous bounce turned into three of their six scores as well as one they allowed.

The event summary was skewed because San Jose held a multi-goal lead for over 40 minutes. However, it does show a close game outside of those bounces.

The Red Wings had 10 extra possessions (33-24 faceoffs, 15-23 giveaways and 3-10 takeaways). However, they fired just one more attempt (64-63) and an equal 35 shots despite the Sharks finishing with just two more hits (20-18) and four fewer blocks (14-18).

San Jose now heads to Alberta to take on two provincial rivals. The Edmonton Oilers are up Tuesday and just half a game back of Anaheim. Meanwhile, the Calgary Flames are two games back of the four-time defending Pacific Division champions and on Wednesday’s docket.