Power Play Goals Not Enough For Wings in Loss to Sharks

The Detroit Red Wings scored two first-period power play goals Monday night but could manage nothing else against the San Jose Sharks as they dropped a 5-2 decision at Joe Louis Arena.

It was just the team’s second home regulation loss of the season.

Tomas Holmstrom redirected a Nicklas Lidstrom slap shot past San Jose goalie Antti Niemi at 7:48 of the first to open the game’s scoring.

An apparent goal by Valtteri Filppula was waived off minutes later but officials blew the play dead as the puck slipped under Niemi, before it rolled out from under him and into the net.

With Detroit’s momentum halted Joe Thornton got the Sharks on the board while shorthanded.

Playing the point on the power play, Jiri Hudler pinched in to swat at a loose puck but Dany Heatley got it past him. Heatley and Thornton went in on a two-on-one, with Heatley passing across for an easy goal by Thornton with 4:01 remaining in the period.

Johan Franzen put the Red Wings back in front 2:36 later, scoring from an acute angle on a nice passing play from Brian Rafalski and Holmstrom.

Niclas Wallin’s shot from the point at 4:53 of the second was deflected past Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard to tie the game back up and Logan Couture put the Sharks out front eight seconds later, snapping a shot from the left circle past Howard.

Heatley scored on another two-on-one with 1:03 left in the period, this time keeping the puck and snapping it past Howard from the right faceoff circle.

Couture’s second of the night wrapped up the game’s scoring as he tipped a Ryane Clowe pass in behind Howard with 8:43 to play.

Niemi stopped 25 of the 27 shots he faced, with only 11 of those saves needing to come in the second and third periods. Howard made 30 saves on 35 shots.

Detroit scored on two of their six power plays and allowed one shorthanded goal. The Sharks were scoreless on four tries with the extra attacker.

The Red Wings are back in action on Wednesday when they host the Nashville Predators.

Detroit – Phoenix: Post-Collapse Notes

I’m going to half-heartedly put on my tinfoil hat for just a second to point out one thing.

It sure is convenient that the league-owned Coyotes just happened to get a power play in the final two minutes of the game, just in time to spark their comeback. And that the game-tying goal was scored with a guy a foot into the crease.

Okay, that out of the way, I’ll jump to the other side of that argument and point out that a Detroit team that can’t clear a defenseman (Ed Jovanovski) from their own crease with 30 seconds left in regulation doesn’t deserve to win. Nicklas Lidstrom should have been on him, or Jimmy Howard should have laid the lumber into him.

Instead, Howard backed all the way into his net to accommodate Jovanovski. From that spot he had no chance of stopping any puck put at him.

Detroit should know better than any team that you can get away with beating the hell out of a player camped out in the crease. Rather than doing it, they played nice and let Phoenix tie the game.

Aside from the nap the Wings took in allowing the first and second Phoenix goals, I have no other complaints about the game. To me it all comes down to that tying goal.

Kronwall to Return Tuesday, Lilja Inching Closer

Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall will return to the Red Wings’ lineup on Tuesday as the Phoenix Coyotes visit Joe Louis Arena.

The team announced on Monday that Kronwall, who has been out since November 21 after a knee-on-knee hit from Montreal’s Georges Laraque, will rejoin defense partner Brad Stuart on the second blueline pairing and will take his usual place on the point with the second power play unit.

Kronwall’s return comes along with the news that defenseman Andreas Lilja hasn’t experienced a headache in 13 days. Lilja, who hasn’t played in a year with post-concussion symptoms, needs to go 14 days without a headache to be cleared to begin full-contact practices. He is hopeful that he could return to the lineup soon.

Tomas Holmstrom, out with a broken foot since early this month, is targeting this week for a return. Jason Williams hopes to return from his fractured fibula in early Feburary.

Johan Franzen, originally expected to be out until March, could return on the same West Coast road trip as Williams.