Quick Goals Doom Red Wings in Game One Loss

The San Jose Sharks scored three goals in a 1:19 span in the first period Thursday night, putting the Detroit Red Wings in a hole that they couldn’t dig out of.

Joe Pavelski opened the game’s scoring with a power play goal at 9:05 of the first. Pavelski was left alone in the slot to take a pass from Dan Boyle and whip a shot past Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard.

Dany Heatley scored his first of the playoffs 56 seconds later. After the Sharks controlled a faceoff in the Detroit end, Joe Thornton took the puck behind the net and sent a pass out to Heatley at the top of the crease. Heatley banged it past Howard to give San Jose a 2-0 lead.

Just 23 seconds later, Devin Setoguchi made it 3-0 on another goal from the slot, snapping a shot into the net with Howard caught slow coming across.

The Red Wings got on the board 1:16 later, when Danny Cleary scored his first goal of the postseason. Cleary was all alone in front of San Jose netminder Evgeni Nabokov and redirected a Jonathan Ericsson pass into the net.

Johan Franzen pulled Detroit to within a goal at 4:45 of the second period, snapping a shot from the slot into the top of the net.

Pavelski restored San Jose’s two goal lead 50 seconds into the third, swinging a shot from the inside edge of the left faceoff circle between Howard’s pads while the Sharks skated on a five-on-three.

Brian Rafalski responded 2:07 later, pinching in to snap a shot from the right faceoff circle past Nabokov.

The Red Wings failed to even the game up despite pulling Howard for the extra attacker in the game’s final minutes, with the Sharks holding on for the 4-3 win.

San Jose scored on two of their six power play chances, including 57 seconds of five-on-three time. The Red Wings were scoreless on five power play tries.

Howard finished the night with 23 saves on 27 shots. Nabokov stopped 20 of 23 Detroit chances.

The two teams will meet in Game Two on Sunday night.

The Sharks were without forward Patrick Marleau, who missed the game with flu-like symptoms.

Hudler Set to Return to Red Wings Next Season

Forward Jiri Hudler – who bolted Detroit for the Russian Kontinental Hockey League last summer – will rejoin the Red Wings for the 2010-11 season, his agent announced Friday.

“He wanted to come back to the NHL,” agent Petr Svoboda said. “He missed the NHL, he missed the Red Wings and the guys.”

Hudler signed a two-year, $10 million tax-free contract last summer with the KHL’s Dynamo Moscow. He was also awarded a two-year deal with Detroit at a cap hit of $2.875 million.

Dynamo suffered a financial collapse and will be merging with MVD Balashikha, freeing Hudler from his Russian deal.

Having spent this season in Europe, Hudler is ineligible to immediately join the Red Wings, with his contract kicking in for next season.

Game One Postgame Notes

I’m not blaming the refs for Detroit’s loss tonight but I’m still a bit p*ssed about the officiating at the end of the second period, directly leading to the eventual game-winning goal early in the third.

That said, if the Wings had scored a single power play goal we’re in overtime right now. San Jose took advantage of the chances they got and the Red Wings didn’t.

For the first time in these playoffs, the Wings lost a game where I was happy with their effort. Despite the loss, Detroit played a really solid game tonight and that bodes well for future games.

Things that I liked…

Dan Cleary. The guy was all over the place and it was great to see him come back after what looked like a head injury. Finally picked up a goal, too.

The entire fourth line. Justin Abdelkader and Drew Miller were buzzing, whether or not Cleary was on the line with them.

The way the Red Wings fought back. Going down 3-0 so early in the game, Detroit could have given up pretty easily. They didn’t, though, and were a shot away from forcing overtime. Doesn’t do much good for the result but it shows they’re not going to be rolled over.

Things that I didn’t like…

Three fast goals against. This one’s easy. Though they rallied to make it close, you can’t expect to win a game when you give up that many goals so quickly.

Only 20 shots taken. Evgeni Nabokov is the weak link on this Sharks team and the Red Wings didn’t test him enough.

Bad night for Jimmy Howard. 23 saves on 27 shots isn’t bad but the last two goals shouldn’t have happened. He was out of position on the third goal and slow to shut his pads on the fourth.

On the Sharks…

San Jose did a great job of clearing the zone. They usually had a guy open in the faceoff circle during a battle along the boards so they could get the puck to him and get the clear. The Wings are going to have to battle along the boards better if they want to win this series.

Schedule for Red Wings – Sharks Series Announced

The NHL announced two possible schedules for the second round of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs today, contingent on the winner of tonight’s matchup between the Washington Capitals and the Montreal Canadiens.

The schedule for the Detroit Red Wings and the San Jose Sharks is virtually set in stone, though the start time of a possible Game Seven is not yet determined. The start time of a possible Game Five set for 10:00 if the Capitals win and 10:30 if the Canadiens advance.

The Red Wings and Sharks will start things off on Thursday night in San Jose before taking two nights off while the HP Pavilion is used for a pair of concerts. The rest of the series will be played on an every-other night schedule.

The full schedule is as follows (all times Eastern):

April 29 – @ San Jose – 9:00
May 2 – @ San Jose – 8:00
May 4 – @ Detroit – 7:30
May 6 – @ Detroit – 7:30
May 8 – @ San Jose – 10:00 or 10:30
May 10 – @ Detroit – 7:30
May 12 – @ San Jose- TBD

Datsyuk, Lidstrom Each Score Twice as Red Wings Rout Coyotes in Game Seven

With their season on the line, Detroit’s top players came through as Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom each scored a pair of goals in leading the Red Wings to a 6-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes in Game Seven of their Western Conference Quarterfinal matchup.

Henrik Zetterberg and Brian Rafalski each had three assists on the night while Brad Stuart and Todd Bertuzzi rounded out the scoring.

The Red Wings advance to face the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Semifinals.

Detroit outshot Phoenix 17-6 in the first period but couldn’t solve goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. It wasn’t until 2:01 of the second period that his countryman, Datsyuk, opened the game’s scoring.

With the Red Wings on the power play, Datsyuk took a bouncing feed from Lidstrom in the slot and snapped a shot through traffic in front of the net and past Bryzgalov.

Datsyuk scored his second just 1:41 later, taking a long stretch pass from Zetterberg and breaking in all alone on Bryzgalov. He faked to his backhand and cut back to his forehand, lifting a shot over Bryzgalov’s shoulder to make it 2-0.

Vernon Fiddler got Phoenix on the board at 8:23 of the second, taking advantage of a miscue by Datsyuk to snap a shot off the faceoff past Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard.

Lidstrom’s first of the night, another power play goal, restored Detroit’s two-goal lead with 6:08 left in the period. The rebound of a Zetterberg chance came into the high slot, where Lidstrom stepped in and blasted it past Bryzgalov.

The Coyotes had a chance to cut into the lead again in the period’s closing minutes with a 72-second five-on-three. Detroit limited Phoenix to only two shots, however, and turned the tables as the second penalty expired.

Lee Stempniak tried to throw a pass to former Red Wing Mathieu Schneider at the point but it was off target and left the Detroit zone. Just out of the penalty box, Brad Stuart picked up the loose puck and raced in to beat Bryzgalov with 4.6 seconds left in the period.

Bertuzzi banged home the rebound of a Valtteri Filppula chance 6:35 into the third period, virtually ending the series.

Lidstrom wrapped up the scoring with his second of the night, snapping a shot into the top corner of the net from the right faceoff dot. It was another power play goal, coming with 7:46 left in the game.

The Red Wings finished the night three-for-six on the power play. The Coyotes were scoreless on five tries with the extra attacker, including the 1:12 five-on-three.

Howard stopped 32 of 33 shots in earning the win. Bryzgalov made 44 saves on 50 Detroit chances.

The Red Wings are expected to open the second round on Thursday.

Phoenix captain Shane Doan sat out his fourth consecutive game after being injured in Game Three.

Game Seven Postgame Notes

This was a complete, sixty minute effort by Detroit tonight. This was what we were waiting for all series.

The Red Wings wanted this one, and that was obvious from the start. The only reason Detroit didn’t have a multi-goal lead after the first period is that Ilya Bryzgalov had a fantastic night. Not something that often goes hand-in-hand with allowing six goals but the truth.

Two goals by Pavel Datsyuk, including a beauty of an eventual game-winner. Two goals by Nicklas Lidstrom, a day shy of his 40th birthday. Three points each for Brian Rafalski and Henrik Zetterberg. The Red Wings needed their leaders to lead and they came through.

On the flip side: Phoenix captain Shane Doan. Lower-case “c” for a reason. I know I’m spoiled by growing up in the Steve Yzerman era but to me, when the season is on the line the Captain (capital “C”) is on the ice. A Captain plays on one leg. A captain watches the game in street clothes.

The Coyotes that were dressed gave it their all. They had some good chances and forced Howard to make big stops while the game was still close but they were just overpowered.

So now the Red Wings advance to face the San Jose Sharks. While the official schedule won’t be released until after the Washington – Montreal Game Seven on Wednesday, with concerts scheduled for Friday and Saturday in San Jose it looks like the Wings and Sharks will go on Thursday and Sunday.

If we see the Detroit team we saw tonight, the Sharks are in some trouble. If the Wings go back to playing lazy they’ll pay for it quickly.

Game Seven Pregame Notes

The Red Wings head to Game Seven for the third consecutive series tonight. For the first time since 1991 they face a Game Seven on the road.

I don’t know what to expect going into tonight’s matchup. Detroit isn’t making any lineup changes but the Coyotes could see the return of captain Shane Doan, who completed a full practice with the team for the first time since leaving Game Three with a shoulder injury.

As I said yesterday, the Red Wings can win this one. Just last week they had an awful afternoon game at home and bounced back with a big win in the next game. There’s no reason it couldn’t happen again.

Sunday’s lack of effort should have no bearing on tonight’s game but – to me, at least – it does.

In the past I would have no problem with believing the Wings would flip a switch and get the big win. They’ve done it plenty of times.

After pathetic efforts on consecutive Sundays, however, I don’t know that the Red Wings want to flip that switch. If they wanted to, why the apathy in those two games?

In short, I believe the Wings have the ability to win but I don’t have faith in their desire right now.

Game time is 9:00 (not the previously-reported 10:00). We’ll see what happens.

Game Six Postgame Notes: Part One

I’ll rant more later but a couple initial thoughts…

Andreas Lilja and Jonathan Ericsson were out for a lot of the game’s final minutes. Combined with Jimmy Howard being left in makes me think Mike Babcock was not going for the win. That kind of p*sses me off.

I’ve heard from a Coyotes fan after every Phoenix win so far, don’t disappoint me now, guys.

Highly disappointed in the Detroit effort today. Absolutely offensive.

Game Six Pregame Notes

The Red Wings have the chance to finish off the Coyotes at home this afternoon and avoid a trip back to Glendale for a deciding Game Seven, so we’re on to the third consecutive virtual must-win for Detroit.

While earlier this series a Phoenix fan accused me of not respecting the Coyotes, Fox Sports Arizona (via <a href='http://blog.mlive.com/snapshots/2010/04/phoenix_coyotes_team_of_destin.html?

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