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Sharks earn another OT win, take 1-0 series lead against Red Wings

Apr 30, 2011, 1:38 AM EDT

Detroit Red Wings v San Jose Sharks - Game One Getty Images

Controversial penalty calls dominated much of the chatter – at least among Detroit Red Wings fans – when the team lost to the San Jose Sharks in the 2010 semifinals. If the Sharks’ 2-1 OT win in Game 1 is in any indication, those tin foil hats might get some serious mileage this year, too.

The Sharks weren’t able to score after Justin Abdelkader was whistled for a high-sticking double-minor in overtime, but Ben Ferriero’s winning goal came just 20 seconds after the Red Wings killed a rare OT penalty.* People will surely discuss the fact that San Jose received six power plays while Detroit only had two man advantages in Game 1.

San Jose 2, Detroit 1 (OT); Sharks lead series 1-0

When I heard announcers mention that Friday was Mike Babcock’s 48th birthday, I thought: “Oh, so that explains Jimmy Howard‘s otherworldly play … he forgot to get Babs a present.” Apparently Ferriero’s birthday (he turned 24 on Friday) trumped Babcock’s, though, as the young Sharks forward scored that OT winner in his first career playoff game.

Howard truly was outstanding in defeat, though. Perhaps the Sharks’ high-volume offense brings out the best in opposing netminders, as Howard stopped 44 out of 46 shots in this game. He didn’t win tonight, but if Howard can keep this up, Detroit must like their chances. In the opposing crease, Antti Niemi was solid in a relatively light night of work, making 24 out of 25 saves.

Things began well for the Red Wings, as Pavel Datsyuk set up a Nicklas Lidstrom goal midway through the first period to give Detroit a 1-0 lead. Howard kept that lead intact through the second period despite the fact that the Sharks out-shot his team 18-7.

There was a give-and-take between Howard and Joe Pavelski, which probably shouldn’t be surprising since “The Big Pavelski” experienced his breakout 2010 playoff run during the teams’ semifinals series. Howard sent a few blows Pavelski’s way after the Sharks forward showered him with ice.

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Pavelski got the last laugh (in this game, at least) by scoring a power-play goal that revealed his world-class hand-eye coordination.

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The overtime period didn’t last very long, as the Red Wings killed off that double-minor shortly before that Ferriero goal. On a night when the Sharks didn’t get many bounces, they earned them on their two goals. That was especially true with the OT winner, as Ferriero sent a shot that deflected off Detroit defenseman Brad Stuart‘s stick and into the Red Wings net.

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The outlook for both teams:

As usual, the Sharks created more scoring opportunities than their opponents but barely won. All negativity aside, though, they found a way to win their fourth overtime contest in only seven playoff games. It’s getting tougher and tougher to glue that choker label back on them, but many won’t be satisfied unless they win a Cup.

Both the Red Wings and Capitals lost tonight after hearty breaks from playoff action. Does that mean Detroit was rusty? You might call it that, but I cannot help but wonder if the real problem is their shaky defense. It’s possible that this game might have been lopsided if Howard wasn’t playing like the elite goalie he can often be.

Still, it’s just one game, something both teams are well aware of. The Sharks won in five games last year, but few would be surprised if this series ends up being lengthy. That might be tough on both sides in the long run, but it should be a great treat for fans considering how much talent each team boasts.

* – Then again, maybe overtime penalties are becoming more common. The Sharks were forced to kill part of a major penalty in overtime themselves while Vancouver Canucks forward Alex Burrows received a penalty in overtime of a Game 7.

  1. dreadpiratesteve - Apr 30, 2011 at 2:00 AM

    Calls in this one were soft for both teams. Wings fans can complain but there were missed calls on both sides. San Jose was by far the better team and outplayed Detroit nearly the entire game. Jimmy Howard was the only reason it went to overtime.

  2. seeingwhatsticks - Apr 30, 2011 at 3:41 AM

    The Wings’ problem is lack of foot speed among their top 6 and on the back end, in all likelihood because of age. Other than Datsyuk (who is Datsick) the Wings’ best players really can’t keep up with the top 3 lines of the Sharks, who are very tough to beat when the Wellwood-Pavelski-Mitchell line is buzzing, drawing penalties, and scoring the way they were tonight. The result of the Wings not being able to keep up is a fairly steady stream to the penalty box, which is what happened last year and started to happen tonight even though the Wings were so well rested. I think the Wings still have enough talent to beat just about anyone in a 7 game series so they shouldn’t be counted out, but when you start looking at the birth dates of their best players it becomes a lot harder to see them winning 4 7 game series in a row. This is the last gasp for this great core of players in Detroit if the championship window hasn’t already been slammed shut.

    When you look at these two teams compared to what they were last year, they are both almost entirely the same. Couture and Demers have emerged for the Sharks, the aforementioned Wellwood-Pavelski-Mitchell line is a much bigger scoring threat than any third line the Sharks have had recently, and Ian White is probably a slight step up from what Rob Blake was by the end of last season. Likewise the Wings have seen Helm and Cleary step up, and Howard has a year under his belt, but the key guys are all a year older. I guess what I’m saying is that neither team is dramatically different from what they were in the playoffs last year, and since then the Sharks are 7-2 against the Red Wings. At some point it’s not a fluke anymore and when you start going position by position I don’t see where the Wings have a big advantage in any position group.

    • polegojim - Apr 30, 2011 at 4:28 PM

      Actually huge difference on Deroit. The Wings are much deeper, we’ll see it come out.

      Need some hair-triggers machine guns out there. Stop looking for the ‘perfect’ pass.
      Bombs away. Niemi makes mistakes when he gets flustered.

  3. polegojim - Apr 30, 2011 at 9:52 AM

    Sharks earned it.

    You won’t many Wings fans whining about penalties. The calls against Eaves and Bert were ‘make up’ calls from the missed/bad calls against the Sharks earlier. It happens.

    Wings could have/should have won behind Howards stellar effort. Way too many puck handling mistakes, lack of clearing out the puck.

    Tentative Wings play. Too much passing when a clear shot was present. Too much time off.

  4. dreadpiratesteve - Apr 30, 2011 at 2:32 PM

    Curious to see the game tomorrow. Not sure if 8 days off made Detroit rusty or if the superior athleticism of SJ was the cause for the Wings flat play. They looked awfully old and slow last night. No physicality as well by the Wings.

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