Western Conference Semifinals, Game 1 (4/29/10)

Fewer than 48 hours after winning game seven in Phoenix the Red Wings were in San Jose to start game one against the Sharks. The goalies tonight were Jimmy Howard and Evgeni Nabokov. The big news for San Jose was that Patrick Marleau was unavailable for this game because of illness. Apparently had a fever and wasn’t feeling well enough to play.

The first five minutes of the game seemed like the typical feeling out process. Both teams had a few scoring chances but nothing too dangerous. Both goalies seemed to settle in. The energy level seemed good for both teams even though San Jose was rested and Detroit was not.

Holmstrom and Mitchell went after each other a little bit and got matching roughing minors. With only 13 seconds left in the 4 on 4 Filppula was called for slashing. During the 4 on 3 power play the Sharks won a faceoff deep in the Red Wings’ zone. Just after the matching minors expired Boyle made a centering pass to Pavelski in the slot. He let one go that got through the traffic and into the net to put the Sharks on the board first. Howard didn’t have a very good look at that one because of the screen.

Just a few seconds after that goal the Sharks won another faceoff deep in the Wings’ end. They moved the puck around without much resistance. Thornton ended up with it behind the net. He passed it quickly to Heatley driving up the slot. He tapped it in and made it two nothing. The goals were just 56 seconds apart. Detroit was getting a delayed penalty that was negated by the goal. Nabokov was headed to the bench but the Sharks didn’t have the extra skater on yet.

About two seconds after that the Red Wings lost another faceoff in their own end. Pavelski made a diving pass to Setoguchi in the slot. His shot hit Zetterberg’s stick and changed direction sharply. Where else would it go but the back of the net? It was three to nothing Sharks and just barely past the halfway point of the first period. Jimmy Howard wasn’t playing badly. There wasn’t much he could have done about any of those goals.

A minute or two after the Sharks goal Ericsson had the puck along the boards and Cleary was wide open in front of the net banging his stick on the ice. Ericsson got him the puck and Cleary tapped it in to chip away at the Sharks’ sudden lead.

In the second period the Red Wings lost a faceoff in the Shark’s end but Franzen kept after it and the puck ended up coming to Datsyuk along the boards. Datsyuk passed back to Franzen who took it to the slot. Cleary was in front of the net right in Nabokov’s face. Franzen released a perfect shot and Nabokov never saw a thing. That goal made it three to two Wings.

As Lilja was about to get a high sticking penalty a scrum ensued. Abdelkader wrestled with McGinn while Ericsson nailed Couture with a couple of nice rights. The Sharks had a power play because of Lilja’s extra minor. Ericsson and Couture offset and Abdelkader and McGinn got a pass.

Near the end of the second period Cleary collided with Abdelkader and fell down. As he was falling he was run into by Blake and took an accidental shot to the head. He was down for a while and had to be helped back to the bench. Then Franzen was hit in the face with a high stick by Setoguchi and cut badly. Instead of that being called, Franzen was called for tripping and the Sharks had a power play. That was a very questionable call. During their power play Filppula was called for high sticking Setoguchi. There was no doubt that he was hit by Filppula’s stick but his reaction was so overdone that it should have been called unsportsmanlike. Regardless, the Sharks had a 5 on 3 power play but it was interrupted by the second intermission.

The Sharks had almost a minute of 5 on 3 time to start the third. With about 8 seconds left on it Pavelski shot one that beat Howard through the five hole to put the Sharks back up by two goals. Then they had over a minute of 5 on 4 time which the Wings successfully killed off.

A few minutes later the Red Wings answered right back. Franzen got it to Datsyuk in the slot who spotted Rafalski. Datsyuk just tapped it over to Rafalski who flipped it into the back of the net and put the Wings back within a goal.

Howard made some spectacular saves to keep the Wings in the hunt. They pulled him for the extra skater in the final moments but they weren’t able to score.

This was another game where specialty teams was the difference. The Wings were 0 for 5 on the power play and San Jose was 2 for 6. That’s not going to cut it in this series.

For the most part the Wings played well and Jimmy Howard was sharp. However, I think the game winning goal was one that Howard would want back.

The Red Wings showed great resilience tonight but it just wasn’t enough. They’ll get another crack at it on Sunday evening at 8:00pm eastern.

This 3-4 loss brings this Western Conference Semifinal series to 0-1 San Jose.

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