The injury bug just doesn’t seem to want to go away. Oh sure, Derian Hatcher made it back into the lineup after recovering from a bruised shoulder, but now the Wings have lost Curtis Joseph again. Joseph tweaked his sore right ankle during the pre-game warmup, and nothing went quite right for Detroit after that. Jonathan Cheechoo scored two goals to help lift San Jose to a 5-2 win.
Detroit outshot San Jose through the first period, but the Sharks got out to an early 2-0 lead, thanks to sloppy defensive play by the Red Wings. Scott Hannan opened the scoring by skating to the slot alone and swatting a loose puck, which had just ricocheted off Hatcher’s skate, into the net.
Cheechoo increased the lead 9:40 into the game. Manny Legace made the first save against a hard shot from Mike Ricci, but Cheechoo was able to pick up the rebound, circle the net, and whack at the puck until he finally stuffed it in on the left side.
Pavel Datsyuk got the Red Wings on the board with 1:18 left in the period. Brett Hull intercepted a pass deep in the Sharks’ zone, then passed to Datsyuk at the right circle. Datsyuk moved to the net, faked out goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, then slipped the puck over the goal line.
The Sharks regained their two-goal lead early in the second. Chris Chelios tried to clear the puck, but it hit a partition in the glass and stayed in the zone. Cheechoo got hold of the puck and blasted a shot from the left circle. Legace wasn’t quite able to get his glove up high enough and the puck sailed into the net.
Jiri Fischer brought the Wings back within one goal with a point shot midway through the period, but the Sharks responded with two goals in the third. Alyn McCauley beat everyone to a loose puck while Legace was tangled up with Anders Myrvold and Niklas Ekman. McCauley threw the puck into the crease, and Alexander Korolyuk outraced Henrik Zetterberg to get to the puck and direct it into the net with his skate.
Vincent Damphousse capped off the scoring by poking in a rebound from a shot by Patrick Marleau with just over four minutes left to play.
Detroit outshot San Jose by a count of 39 to 20. The Red Wings will finish up their West Coast trip with a stop in Denver Thursday night to visit the Colorado Avalanche.
Damphousse’s goal was his 1200th career point… Datsyuk now has 27 goals this season, four more than he had in his two previous seasons combined… The Wings are currently tied for first with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the NHL standings, with 99 points each. The Sharks and Avalanche, currently the second and third seeds in the Western Conference, have 94 points each.