Islanders Claim Nabokov off Waivers

Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov has been claimed off waivers by the New York Islanders.

Nabokov was signed by the Detroit Red Wings to a one-year deal on Thursday. Because he started the season in Russia, he had to be placed on waivers on Friday before he could join the Red Wings.

The Islanders already have three goalies on the roster. Rick DiPietro is currently ill and Nathan Lawson left Friday night’s game with a knee injury. Kevin Poulin finished in net.

Nabokov was not expected to clear waivers, as his $570,000 salary and lack of performance-based bonuses was not enough to prevent other NHL teams from being interested in him.

With Nabokov lost, the Red Wings will likely call Joey MacDonald back to Detroit to back up Jimmy Howard. Jordan Pearce will back up Howard in Saturday’s matchup with the Chicago Blackhawks. Chris Osgood is expected to return from sports hernia surgery in mid-March.

Red Wings Blow Lead, Score in OT to Beat Blues, 4-3

The Detroit Red Wings gave up a three-goal lead Thursday night but got an overtime goal from Darren Helm to pick up a 4-3 win over the St. Louis Blues.

Helm’s goal came after the Blues forced overtime, rallying from down 3-0 midway through the game to tie things up with 5:46 remaining in regulation.

After Helm chipped the puck out of the Detroit zone, Jiri Hudler carried it down the right wing and into the St. Louis end. Hudler centered the puck to Helm, who swatted it past goalie Jaroslav Halak to give the Red Wings the win at 1:51 of the overtime period.

Patrick Eaves had opened the game’s scoring with 7:35 left in the first. Eaves forced a turnover in the right wing corner and then went to the front of the net, taking a pass from Henrik Zetterberg and banging home the puck.

At 7:34 of the second, Todd Bertuzzi made it 2-0 when Halak tracked Valtteri Filppula‘s wraparound attempt, not noticing that the puck was left for Bertuzzi at the side of the goal. Bertuzzi roofed a shot with Halak looking the other way.

Jakub Kindl‘s first NHL goal made it 3-0 2:16 later. Kindl joined Filppula and Hudler as the late man on a rush, getting the puck from Filppula and trying to work it to Hudler at the side of the net. The attempted pass deflected off of defenseman Roman Polak and past Halak.

TJ Oshie got the Blues on the board with 8:16 left in the middle period. Oshie put a shot from the left faceoff circle over Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard‘s shoulder.

Patrick Berglund was left uncovered in the slot at 6:35 of the third period, open to take a pass from Vladimir Sobotka and snap a shot past Howard, pulling St. Louis to within a goal.

David Backes tied the game with 5:46 remaining, banging home the rebound of a Brad Boyes chance.

Neither team scored a power play goal on the night. The Blues had two attempts with the extra attacker to Detroit’s one.

Howard made 26 saves on 29 shots in his first game back after missing two with a bruised knee. Halak stopped 25 of 29 shots.

The Red Wings host the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday afternoon and then are off until Wednesday when they host the New Jersey Devils.

Detroit announced the signing of free agent goaltender Evgeni Nabokov immediately after the game. Nabokov will have to clear waivers before joining the team but is not expected to do so.

Red Wings Sign Nabokov

After ten hours of speculation, the Detroit Red Wings confirmed Thursday night that they have signed goaltender Evgeni Nabokov to a one-year deal covering the remainder of this season.

Now all they have to do is keep him.

As Nabokov started the season playing for SKA St. Petersburg of the Russian Kontinental Hockey League, he must be placed on waivers before returning to the NHL. That will happen at noon on Friday and it is considered highly likely that a team will claim him before the deadline of noon on Saturday.

The deal is reportedly for $570,000 on the year, prorated down to approximately $250,000 for the rest of the season. It includes a no-movement clause that does not apply to the initial waiver period.

Red Wings Eliminated in 2-1 Loss to Sharks

The Detroit Red Wings were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Saturday night, dropping a 2-1 decision to the San Jose Sharks.

The win gave the Sharks a 4-1 series victory, advancing them to the Western Conference Finals to face either the Chicago Blackhawks or the Vancouver Canucks.

For the third time in the series, the Red Wings scored first.

Brian Rafalski blasted a shot from the blue line past San Jose goalie Evgeni Nabokov through a screen from Todd Bertuzzi at 2:40 of the second period, putting Detroit on the board.

The Sharks responded quickly, with Joe Thornton getting his stick on the rebound of a Jason Demers shot and putting it past Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard on a power play just 2:14 later.

Thornton helped put the Sharks into the lead at 6:59 of the third, stealing the puck from Brian Rafalski behind the Red Wings’ net and sending a pass out to Patrick Marleau for a one-timer past Howard.

That would be enough for San Jose, with the Red Wings unable to tie the game while skating six-on-four in the game’s final minute.

Thornton’s power play goal was the lone tally with the extra attacker. Each team had four tries.

Howard stopped 30 of 32 shots on the night. Nabokov made 33 saves on 34 shots.

The Red Wings were without forward Patrick Eaves for the fourth consecutive game… Detroit dressed seven defenseman as the status of Brad Stuart was unknown until the pregame skate.

Game Five Postgame Notes

I’ve been having a hard time coming up with the words to match my thoughts about the Red Wings’ ouster from the playoffs at the hands of the San Jose Sharks.

As I said earlier, I’m proud of the team’s effort tonight. I haven’t always been. I didn’t like the way they seemingly went to sleep in Game Three (or several games in the Phoenix series, for that matter) but tonight that wasn’t the case. They weren’t at the top of their game tonight but it certainly wasn’t a case of lack of effort.

If you’re looking for something to blame, one big thing sticks out but – as is often the case no matter what gets reported – it’s not the only thing.

The Red Wings had four power plays and failed to score. For the first time, power play opportunities were completely even and Detroit’s failure to take advantage left them coming up short.

Their offense in general wasn’t enough. You can’t expect to win games in which you only score one goal. Evgeni Nabokov came up big a couple times but if you deserve to advance you find a way to solve the opposing goalie.

Turnovers absolutely killed the Wings tonight. There were stretches of time where they simply could not clear their own zone, and you can’t win a game if you’re playing in your own end. The game-winning goal came off of a turnover. Brian Rafalski lost the puck and it ended up in the net.

That said, about the GWG…

It never should have happened. Rafalski never should have had a chance to lose the puck because the previous faceoff shouldn’t have been in the Detroit end.

On the preceding play, Douglas Murray clearly threw an elbow to Johan Franzen‘s head from the blind side and after Franzen had passed the puck off. The kind of hit that the NHL made a big deal about wanting to get out of the game. And no call was made. Instead of a power play and a faceoff in the San Jose end, Jimmy Howard had to make a stop as the Sharks took it back down, then the faceoff in the Wings’ zone and the Rafalski turnover.

I know, tinfoil hat Red Wings fan means I’m just blaming the refs, despite the four paragraphs before the previous three.

I’m not happy with how the season ended and I don’t have to be, but I feel better about it than I did last year. Last year the Red Wings did not appear to put forth their best effort when it mattered most. This year their best wasn’t enough and there’s not much you can do about that.

As per usual, I’ll probably take a break from writing for awhile now. If any Red Wings news comes up I’ll post it but I won’t be covering much of the remaining playoffs. Like many have said happened to the Wings, I’ve also run out of gas. I’d rather be watching my team advance but there’s a part of me that likes the idea of having about 12 extra hours of free time each week.

I’ll probably do a season review / offseason preview sometime soon. It’s important to remember that no matter how this season ended, the Wings will be back next year.

Game Four Postgame Notes

There is a giddy part of me that wants to look at this game as the tide having turned. That wants to point at Evgeni Nabokov‘s .444 save percentage and say that he finally cracked, the floodgates are open.

Unfortunately, however, a more rational part of me knows that we can’t say that.

I’ve said before, after blowout wins and losses alike, sometimes there’s a game that you just can’t take much from. Tonight was one of those. The Sharks will put it out of their minds and the Wings would be smart to do the same.

That said, there are a few momentum-unrelated things that are great to see.

While Brad Stuart leaving the game early was not good, Khan reports that he’ll be back for Game Five.

Johan Franzen. Do I need to say more?

So the Wings stay alive and the Mule snaps out of his slump. Definitely good points but Detroit still has quite a bit of a hole to climb out of.

Red Wings Fall to Sharks in Penalty-Filled Affair

The Detroit Red Wings dropped a 4-3 decision to the San Jose Sharks on Sunday night, falling down two games to none in their playoff series in a game that was marred by 14 penalty calls.

The Sharks trailed 3-2 heading into the third period and the Red Wings seemed to have momentum. Then Todd Bertuzzi and Niklas Kronwall were sent to the box. On the ensuing five-on-three, Joe Pavelski scored his second of the night to tie the game 4:40 into the period.

Joe Thornton would score the game-winner with 7:23 left in regulation, putting home the rebound of a Dany Heatley shot on a three-on-one after Nicklas Lidstrom‘s stick shattered at the San Jose blue line.

Pavel Datsyuk had opened the scoring at 6:51 of the first period, flinging a wrister off the post and in behind goalie Evgeni Nabokov while covered by two Sharks.

Pavelski tied things up on a power play blast from just inside the blue line 2:10 later.

Ryane Clowe put the Sharks ahead with a backhander from in close with 9:28 left in the first but Tomas Holmstrom tipped a Brian Rafalski power play shot past Nabokov 2:45 later to tie things back up.

Nicklas Lidstrom blasted a shot past Nabokov to put Detroit in front just as a power play expired, two minutes into the second period.

The Red Wings finished the night one-for-four on the power play with 4:38 of time with the extra attacker. The Sharks went two for ten in 12:54 of time, including 1:06 of five-on-three.

Jimmy Howard made 41 saves on 45 San Jose shots. Nabokov stopped 28 of Detroit’s 31 chances.

The series will shift to Detroit for Game Three on Tuesday.

The Red Wings were without forward Patrick Eaves, out with an elbow injury. He was replaced in the lineup by Jason Williams.

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.

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.

Red Wings Drop Fourth Straight with Shootout Loss to Sharks

The Detroit Red Wings returned home from their five-game road trip Thursday night but the while the venue changed the results stayed the same as they dropped their fourth decision in a row, this one a shootout loss to the San Jose Sharks.

Patrick Marleau scored the only goal of the tiebreaker, faking out Jimmy Howard to win the game for San Jose.

The Red Wings had opened the game’s scoring with 7:47 left in the first period when Johan Franzen snapped a shot from the right faceoff circle over the shoulder of Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov while on a power play.

Just 35 seconds later Joe Thornton tied the game, crashing the net and banging the puck in from the side of the crease after it bounced off the back boards on a shot by Niclas Wallin.

Dwight Helminen put the Sharks in front with 10 seconds left in the period, taking a centering pass after being left uncovered in the slot and snapping a shot into the open side of the net.

Jason Williams, the subject of many trade rumors with scouts from ten teams in the stands, tied the game with 7:05 left in regulation, skating around one San Jose defender before lifting a shot over Nabokov’s shoulder.

Nabokov stopped a career-high 50 shots on Detroit’s 52 chances in earning the win. Howard made 24 saves on 26 San Jose shots.

The Red Wings went 1-for-5 on the power play while the Sharks were scoreless in two tries with the extra skater.

Detroit plays their last game before the Olympic break on Saturday as they host the Ottawa Senators.

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