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.
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.