Even after signing their holdout goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, the San Jose Sharks are still not quite up to form. They showed some progress from the 6-3 season opener on October 10, but the Red Wings again defeated the Sharks, this time with a score of 3-2, to give goaltender Curtis Joseph his 350th career victory.
The Red Wings improved their defensive play somewhat after Saturday’s breakdown against Nashville, and allowed the Sharks only seven shots on net in the first period. The Wings also gained an advantage by getting the first power play of the game, 7:53 into the first. With Scott Hannan in the penalty box for hooking, the Detroit power play had a chance to give the Wings an early lead. Luc Robitaille passed the puck neatly from the right boards up to Igor Larionov behind the net. Larionov saw then that three of the four Sharks on the ice were covering Brett Hull in the slot area, but that Sergei Fedorov was moving quietly into position near the left faceoff circle. Larionov threaded the pass through to Fedorov, and Fedorov placed a well-aimed one-timer just over the right shoulder of goaltender Evgeni Nabokov.
Owen Nolan tied the game up for the Sharks early in the second period. Niklas Sundstrom sent the puck out from the corner to Nolan in open ice, and Nolan let go a low shot which went past Curtis Joseph, off the right goalpost, and into the net.
Jason Williams regained the lead for Detroit with his first goal of the season. Pavel Datsyuk tied up two Sharks along the right boards, and still managed to pass the puck to Williams in the corner. Williams had space enough to skate out in front of the net and backhand a shot right between Nabokov’s legs.
Nolan again brought the game back to a tie, this time with a power play goal while Nick Lidstrom was in the box for high-sticking. Mike Ricci fired a hard shot from the left point, and the puck tipped off Nolan’s stick and into the net.
The Wings finally got the lead for good early in the third period. They gained a rare five-on-three advantage with Vincent Damphousse and Scott Hannan both in the box. Brendan Shanahan cycled the puck back to Lidstrom at the left point. Lidstrom sent the pass along the blue line to Fedorov, and Fedorov one-timed a laser speed shot which deflected off of Marcus Ragnarsson and into the net.
The Sharks pulled Nabokov from the net to have six skaters in the last minutes of play, but Joseph was ready for them. His reflexes were sharp enough and quick enough to deny Nolan his hat trick and deny the Sharks a trip to overtime.
Final shots on net were twenty-two to twenty in the Red Wings’ favor. The Wings went 2 for 7 on the power play, while the Sharks went 1 for 3. The Red Wings will have a few nights off; their next game is Saturday night in Ottawa against the Senators.
The Red Wings have scored at least one power play goal in each game so far this year… Henrik Zetterberg is still out with an injured groin, Dmitri Bykov is out with an injured shoulder, and Tomas Holmstrom sat this game out with a bruised sternum. Jason Williams, Jesse Wallin, and Sean Avery made their way into the lineup to cover for their injured teammates… Steve Yzerman took to the ice for a light skate at this morning’s practice. It was a very slow, easy skate, but his recovery seems to be progressing on schedule, and he should be back in the lineup by January or February.