There is a theory that history repeats itself, and last night that proved true for all Red Wings and Sharks fans. An NHL team has only come back from a 3 games to 0 deficit to win 2 out of 159 times. The Wings were able to win game 4, but the home ice advantage and the sheer skill of the Sharks was too much to overcome.
Both teams came to play. The Wings showed no signs of backing down and the Sharks had no intention of going back to Detroit for game 6. The Sharks had several good scoring chances including Pavelski having the freedom to skate in the slot wide open only to shoot the puck over the net. A collective gasp was heard throughout the windy city. Babcock worked some line magic by sticking Datsyuk on the 4th line in the middle of the first which generated some sustained pressure in the Sharks end.
Franzen took the first penalty of the night after Kronwall stumbled at center ice. It was one of those penalties where you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Franzen stopped a scoring chance by taking an interference penalty, but would a goal have been made if he didn’t? We’ll never know, but thankfully the Wings were able to kill the penalty. The Wings looked horrible on the PK, but Marleau didn’t get much on his shot (broken stick?) and Pavelski fanned on his.
Stuart was in the lineup, but was visibly not 100%. He didn’t have the pep in his step and was unable to make sharp pivots, something the Sharks smelled and capitalized on. Stuart had a target on his back the entire night.
Rafalski struck first and scored his 3rd goal of the playoffs early into the second. His shot from the point deflected off Marleau’s stick and dinged off the post. Bertuzzi pulled a “Homer” and provided a very nice screen on Nabakov. Not long after Stuart was called for elbowing and the Sharks got their turn at the man advantage. Thornton wasted no time and scored with an easy rebound to tie the game at 1.
The Wings used a simple strategy for Game 4: Win the first period, win the second, then win the game.
– St. James
Based on this the Wings lost the second by a wide margin. The Sharks have scored 6 goals in the third compared to the Wings 2. The Wings needed to build a lead to create some breathing room.
Three minutes into the third Pavelski gets passed Kronwall for a “break away” and is denied a scoring opportunity. What should have been a hooking penalty turned into a penalty shot. Howard denied Lil’ Joe and pumped his fist in confidence. I didn’t especially like the penalty shot called against the Sharks in game 3 seeing how the whistle came a split second after Couture covered the puck, but that infraction is specifically outlined in the NHL rulebook. Much like “delay of game” when the puck is shot over the glass in the defensive zone…they’re black and white penalties. Hooking is a judgment call and Pavelski was barely passed Kronwall.
Seven minutes into the third Marleau scores (what would be) the crushing blow. Thornton made a centering pass from behind the goal line to a wide open Marleau who made no mistake of driving it into the back of the net. Howard stood little chance.
Sharks had another golden scoring opportunity with Couture and Marleau on a 2-on-1 against Lidstrom. Lidstrom failed to take the pass away and the shot went high. With less than five to go Thornton made another centering pass from behind the net to a wide open Nichol. Howard was able to make a stellar glove save keeping the Wings down by only one.
In the dying minutes of the third (and the season) the Wings were unable to win critical face offs. The Wings had a PP for the last 52 seconds, but that just made it easier for the Sharks to run out the clock.
Wings lose by a final score of 2-1.
Tags: Brad Stuart Brian Rafalski Jimmie Howard Joe Pavelski Joe Thornton Johan Franzen Logan Couture Mike Babcock Nicklas Lidstrom Niklas Kronwall Patrick Marleau Pavel Datsyuk Playoffs San Jose Sharks Scott Nichol Todd Bertuzzi