The second game of the Western Conference 2 vs 3 match-up got underway early on the west coast with a noon local start. The Red Wings entered the game desperately needing a split and hoping to bring more energy as any lingering rust from the long layoff between rounds should have fallen off during game 1. Franzen and Zetterberg both started the game despite not being at or near to 100% as coach Babcock stated prior to the game.
The first period got off to a sluggish start with the officials exerting their dominance. Eight minutes in minor penalties were called within the first 7 minutes of the game. Detroit only had one of the minor penalties and the Sharks were able to capitalize on their only opportunity after another undisciplined, careless and reckless high sticking penalty by Abdelkader. Ian White teed up a pass from Dany Heatley and put the puck past a well screened Jimmy Howard who never had a chance on the shot.
Shortly after the Sharks go-ahead goal the Wings were reward a 4 minute penalty after a high stick by the OT hero from game 1 Ben Ferriero. On this PP Datsyuk did manage to ring one of the post but technically the Wings didn’t even register a shot on net. When the teams returned to 5 on 5 play the Sharks seemed to dominate the tempo and play for the remainder of period. Upon my initial assessment it appeared that the Sharks out shot the Red Wings but after reviewing the NHL’s website the drunken monkey in charge of counting shots concluded the final tally was 12-7 in favor of the Red Wings.
When the second period started the Red Wings managed to control the play for the first portion of the period until Holmstrom got caught putting Douglas Murray in a headlock. The best scoring opportunity of the shortened PP actually came on a breakaway by the Wings Darren Helm but Niemi was able to stand tall and shut him down. The endless stream of players being ushered to the penalty box continued for the the rest of the period and as a result both teams had numerous scoring opportunities and Jimmy Howard’s coming out party in this series continued as he made numerous great saves to keep the Red Wings in this game. The Sharks drastically out shot the Wings in the second period 18-7 and were lucky to enter the second intermission down only 1 goal.
The Sharks came out in the third and continued to pressure what appeared to be a fatigued Red Wings team; Howard was forced to make several early saves. Seconds later an unlikely Shark gave them a 2-0 lead less than 2 minutes into the third as Niclas Wallin let a wrist shot go from the right wing. The shot handcuffed Howard as he got a piece of it; but not enough as the puck bounced off his glove and over his right shoulder into the net.
The Wings finally cut the deficit to 1 on a PP after a weak slashing call to Devin Setoguchi. Yet again a beauty of a pass from Datsyuk found Zetterberg in the slot and he fired it past Niemi for his first point of this post season. The Wings continued to pressure with Lidstrom ringing one off the post in the final minutes of the game but in the end Niemi and the Sharks managed to hold on take both games on home ice to begin this series.
Game 3 goes Wednesday night and against a Sharks team that has been dominate through the first two games it will be critical that the Wings win the next one.
About the Author
Written by Kirk Butler
Born and raised in Murray Harbour - PEI. Like many Canadians hockey is my religion; as a kid I had the pleasure of playing my minor hockey with Conn Smythe winner Brad Richards of the 2004 Stanley Cup winning Tampa Bay Lightning. I played competitive hockey until the age of 21 which included stops in the American Prep School System, Canadian Junior Hockey and the CIS. I now get my competitive fix on the golf course as a scratch golfer. More to come: Kirk Butler PEI, Canada