Things started miserably for the Detroit Red Wings. Jonathan Cheechoo scored the game’s first goal less than one minute after play began, and the Sharks went up 2-0 less than five minutes into the first period after a turnover deep in the Red Wings’ zone was put into the net by Joe Thornton off a beautiful pass by Milan Michalek. The Wings were being overpowered by a physical San Jose club that was utilizing talent and size to intimidate the Wings, who made costly mistakes.
However, midway through the first period, the Red Wings began to wake from their slumber, realizing that they could very well leave Joe Louis Arena down 0-2 in the series. By the end of the period, the Red Wings, at the very least, resembled a professional hockey team, snagging a Henrik Zetterberg goal with less than three minutes to go in the first. Once the second period began, the game was on. Neither team scored in the second period, which set the stage for a comeback in the third. Dan Cleary scored 1:23 into the third period to tie the game, and the teams remained knotted at two apiece until Pavel Datsyuk scored the game winning goal with just 1:24 remaining in regulation.
Once again, the Wings out-shot the Sharks, though by a low margin. This was a defensive game, with neither team getting off many shots — the Wings put 22 shots on goal, the Sharks 19. Nabokov made some great saves in this one again, but in the end, it was Hasek who won the goaltending battle. It was a war for a great portion of the game. Detroit racked up 12 penalty minutes, the Sharks six — neither team scored a goal on the powerplay. Dan Cleary scored shorthanded.
A few random observations:
- Every player on the Sharks is at least 6′ tall
- There were several octopi thrown onto the ice at JLA today, a welcome sight
- Dominik Hasek needs to be a little more willing to stay in his net at times
- The Red Wings have yet to sellout a playoff game