More Problems on the Road: Cujo hurt in 5-2 loss to Sharks

The injury bug just doesn’t seem to want to go away. Oh sure, Derian Hatcher made it back into the lineup after recovering from a bruised shoulder, but now the Wings have lost Curtis Joseph again. Joseph tweaked his sore right ankle during the pre-game warmup, and nothing went quite right for Detroit after that. Jonathan Cheechoo scored two goals to help lift San Jose to a 5-2 win.

Detroit outshot San Jose through the first period, but the Sharks got out to an early 2-0 lead, thanks to sloppy defensive play by the Red Wings. Scott Hannan opened the scoring by skating to the slot alone and swatting a loose puck, which had just ricocheted off Hatcher’s skate, into the net.

Cheechoo increased the lead 9:40 into the game. Manny Legace made the first save against a hard shot from Mike Ricci, but Cheechoo was able to pick up the rebound, circle the net, and whack at the puck until he finally stuffed it in on the left side.

Pavel Datsyuk got the Red Wings on the board with 1:18 left in the period. Brett Hull intercepted a pass deep in the Sharks’ zone, then passed to Datsyuk at the right circle. Datsyuk moved to the net, faked out goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, then slipped the puck over the goal line.

The Sharks regained their two-goal lead early in the second. Chris Chelios tried to clear the puck, but it hit a partition in the glass and stayed in the zone. Cheechoo got hold of the puck and blasted a shot from the left circle. Legace wasn’t quite able to get his glove up high enough and the puck sailed into the net.

Jiri Fischer brought the Wings back within one goal with a point shot midway through the period, but the Sharks responded with two goals in the third. Alyn McCauley beat everyone to a loose puck while Legace was tangled up with Anders Myrvold and Niklas Ekman. McCauley threw the puck into the crease, and Alexander Korolyuk outraced Henrik Zetterberg to get to the puck and direct it into the net with his skate.

Vincent Damphousse capped off the scoring by poking in a rebound from a shot by Patrick Marleau with just over four minutes left to play.

Detroit outshot San Jose by a count of 39 to 20. The Red Wings will finish up their West Coast trip with a stop in Denver Thursday night to visit the Colorado Avalanche.

Damphousse’s goal was his 1200th career point… Datsyuk now has 27 goals this season, four more than he had in his two previous seasons combined… The Wings are currently tied for first with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the NHL standings, with 99 points each. The Sharks and Avalanche, currently the second and third seeds in the Western Conference, have 94 points each.

Kids, Goat Reunite With Great Success

It had been six weeks and two days since Henrik Zetterberg was sidelined with a broken leg, but he slipped right back into the lineup as if he’d never been gone. Zetterberg had a goal and two assists, and Curtis Joseph had another strong showing to lift the Red Wings over the San Jose Sharks, 3-2 in overtime.

The Sharks are a strong defensive team, and the Red Wings had some trouble breaking through their trap to create quality scoring chances against goaltender Evgeni Nabokov. Zetterberg opened the scoring, but he wasn’t able to do so until the first period was almost gone. Niklas Kronwall took a hard shot from the blue line. The puck deflected, but Brendan Shanahan, who was screening the goalie, was able to kick the puck onto his stick blade and backhand a pass to Zetterberg. Nabokov was focused on Shanahan, giving Zetterberg a wide open net to score into.

The Red Wings ran into penalty trouble in the second period. Jiri Fischer was sent out for holding the stick, followed by Mathieu Schneider for high sticking. Nicklas Lidstrom, Kris Draper, and Kirk Maltby killed off fifty seconds of five-on-three power play. Joseph was outstanding again, holding off a mad scramble of Sharks in front of his net until Fischer could leave the box to help relieve the pressure.

With four men on the ice, Detroit took advantage of a break to try to create a scoring chance the other way, but Fischer crashed right into Nabokov, and was sent right back to the box for goaltender interference, giving the Sharks another 35 seconds of two man advantage. This time, Marco Sturm was in close to the goal crease and managed to force the rebound of a Mike Ricci shot into the net.
San Jose moved into the lead early in the third. Wayne Primeau shook off two defenders to move behind the net and center a pass to Scott Thornton. Thornton’s first shot was kicked away by Joseph, but Joseph wasn’t able to get to the rebound shot in time.
The Sharks took their one-goal lead and shut the game down. They forechecked only halfheartedly, preferring to keep four of their skaters lined up to pick off the puck and ice it before Detroit could set up a potential scoring play. The Wings’ bench pulled Joseph out for a sixth skater with just over a minute to go. Thirty seconds later, Detroit got their best break of the game. Nils Ekman was sent to the penalty box for high-sticking.

The Red Wings kept Joseph on the bench, giving them six skaters against four. With just 19 seconds before the buzzer, the Two Kids and the Old Goat tied up the game. Zetterberg passed the puck from behind the net to Brett Hull near the left circle. Hull threaded a pass across to Pavel Datsyuk in the slot, and Datsyuk wristed the shot over Nabokov.

The Sharks weren’t able to play the trap successfully in overtime, with only four skaters allowed per side, so the Red Wings were able to dominate the play. Zetterberg set up the game winning goal by bringing the puck deep into the San Jose zone, dragging it around a few defenders, and making a perfect pass across to Shanahan at the left circle. Shanahan took a hard shot on net which deflected off Nabokov and into the net.

Shots on net were even at 28 apiece. The Red Wings will next see action on Friday night, when they host the Chicago Blackhawks.

Steve Yzerman said he might be ready to play later this week, either Friday against Chicago or Saturday at Nashville…. Datsyuk’s 19th goal ties him with Columbus’s Rick Nash for the NHL’s goal scoring lead and with Washington’s Robert Lang for the lead in points.

Detroit in No Need of a Bigger Boat

The Detroit Red Wings are on the road again, this time on a trip to the West Coast to face the San Jose Sharks. With just a few games left to play, the only role left for the San Jose Sharks to fill is to be the spoilers. The Red Wings are in a hot race for the top spot in the West, and cannot spare any more points this season if they wish to remain on top.

It was only last year that the San Jose Sharks were one game away from advancing to the Western Conference finals. Yet you wouldn’t know it if you were to take a look at them today. Dead last in the Pacific Division with only 68 points, the Sharks have been forced to rebuild once again. Just this season, they have said goodbye to head coach Darryl Sutter, franchise player Owen Nolan, and most recently general manager Dean Lombardi.

“This season has been a struggle and clearly has not progressed as any of us expected. We feel this move is a necessary step in returning the San Jose Sharks to the postseason next year.””” President Greg Jamison

Lombardi is credited for the transformation of the Sharks in the 90’s, but it seems like in the NHL, having an ugly year can cause higher-ups to have a sudden loss of memory. In the Sharks last game, the Tampa Bay Lighting got the win 4-1, which was good enough to advance them into the Eastern Conference Playoffs.

Tuesday night turned out to be a night of retribution for the surging Red Wings. Two nights after being shut out by the Wild 4-0 in Minnesota, the Red Wings returned the favor as Curtis Joseph turned away 18 shots to earn a 4-0 shutout. With a comfortable lead over the St. Louis Blues in the Central Division, the Red Wings are focused on making a run at having home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs. As of right now, Detroit is lined up to face the Edmonton Oilers. Edmonton took the season series against Detroit, winning two of the four meetings and also earning a 1-1 tie. After the game against the Sharks, the Red Wings will head to St. Louis to take on the Blues.

Detroit is 3-0 against the San Jose Sharks this season, outscoring them 14-9.

-Player To Watch-
San Jose- #8 Teemu Selanne (25 goals, 35 assists). Leading the team with 60 points, Selanne appears to be one of the only Sharks left with any bite.

Detroit- #40 Henrik Zetterberg (21 goals, 19 assists). Looks to be a lock for the rookie of the year award at the end of the season. Zetterberg has been everything the Red Wings could have hoped for, and then some.

-Out or in Doubt-
San Jose- Brad Stuart D (Concussion/Out), Matt Bradley RW (Broken Wrist/Out), Mike Ricci C (Back/Questionable), Scott Thornton LW (Concussion/Out), Wayne Primeau C (Back/Questionable)

Detroit- Jiri Fischer D (Knee/Out)

-Between da Pipes-
San Jose- #20 Evgeni Nabokov (19-27-6, 2.73 GAA, .907 SV%, 3 SO), #29 Vesa Toskala (3-2-0, 2.38 GAA, .923 SV%, 0 SO)

Detroit- #31 Curtis Joseph (31-17-6, 2.53 GAA, .911 SV%, 4 SO), #34 Manny Legace (13-5-3, 2.06 GAA, .929 SV%, 0 SO)

-Most Points This Season vs. Opposition-
San Jose-Two players tied with 3 points. #18 Mike Ricci (3 assists), #25 Vincent Damphousse (2 goals, 1 assist) vs. Detroit

Detroit- #91 Sergei Federov with 6 points (4 goals, 2 assists) vs. San Jose

The game will be televised at 10:30 p.m. Eastern Time on FOX BAY and locally on UPN50.

Wings Hold Off Late Sharks Surge

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.

Off and Running

If it’s late night at home in Detroit, if it’s October, if the Wings are scoring on penalty kills as easily as on power plays, it must be Game One of the regular season, and we must be in San Jose. In a game strangely reminiscent of last year’s season opener in San Jose, the Red Wings got Dave Lewis off to a good start in his tenure as head coach with a 6-3 victory over the Sharks.

The Red Wings could have gotten into penalty trouble in the first period, as the Sharks were awarded four consecutive power plays, including a high-sticking double minor to Max Kuznetsov. Fortunately for Detroit, Kirk Maltby was on the penalty kill. Maltby scored two shorthanded goals on the Sharks’ first two power plays. His first resulted from a badly placed pass from Jeff Jillson to Mike Rathje in the San Jose zone. Maltby intercepted the puck, skated towards the net, and put the puck high over goalie Mikka Kiprusoff.

Maltby’s second shorthanded goal came from an interception by Kris Draper in the Red Wings’ zone. Draper got the puck and took off up the right wing side, with Maltby keeping up on the left and only one San Jose defenseman to get in the way. Draper passed across to Maltby. Maltby looked as if he would pass back, but instead drew the defender and the goalie towards him before putting the puck into the net again.

The Sharks got on the board with a goal by Vincent Damphousse while they were at five-on-three. With Chris Chelios and Brendan Shanahan both in the box, the three skaters and Curtis Joseph did well for most of their time, but just before the five-on-three would have ended, Damphousse picked up a rebound of a Mike Ricci shot and fired a quick shot which slid between Joseph’s leg pads.

Tomas Holmstrom gave the Wings their own power play goal before the period was over. Pavel Datsyuk won the draw in the Sharks’ zone, Nick Lidstrom received the pass and took a shot from the blue line, and Holmstrom, at the front of the net as usual, tipped the puck to redirect it past Kiprusoff.

The scoring continued in the second period, although the penalties let up. Fedorov got away on a one-on-one, used the Sharks’ defenseman as a screen, and zinged a wrist shot between the skater’s legs and right through Kiprusoff, just 30 seconds into the period. Damphousse brought San Jose back within two points ten minutes later by being in exactly the right place to receive Owen Nolan’s cross-crease pass and slap it past Joseph before the goaltender could slide back across the net. Fedorov was allowed to break loose on another one-on-one, this time against Rathje. The shot deflected off Rathje’s stick, fluttered high into the air, and dropped right over Kiprusoff’s shoulder. Finally, Lidstrom scored his second goal on a three-on-one rush. He picked up the rebound from his first shot and tapped it past Kiprusoff.

The Sharks started the third period on a power play, from an interference call on Jiri Fischer from the end of the second period, and with a new goalie in net. Rookie backup Vesa Toskala came in to replace the beleaguered Kiprusoff. Rathje scored on a one-time shot from a pass by Damphousse almost right away, but the Sharks were unable to follow up the momentum from their third goal, and the game ended 6-3. Toskala was tested by the Wings, most notably by Datsyuk and by Brett Hull, but he held up to the challenge and stopped all twelve of the shots he faced in the period.

The Red Wings will continue their West Coast road trip by heading further south to face the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night.

The usual starting goalie for the Sharks, Evgeni Nabokov, did not play tonight because he has not yet signed a contract for this season…. The Red Wings extended their winning streak in season openers to four seasons, currently the longest streak in the NHL.

Sharks Chomp Down

The first multiple-goal game of Jason Williams‘ young NHL career was not enough to make up for the Red Wings’ defensive mistakes or the determination and skill of the San Jose offense, and the Red Wings went down to the Sharks 6-3, while the theme from “Jaws” blared over the speakers in the Shark Tank.

The Red Wings started out with more jump to their offensive game, but got into penalty trouble early on when they got caught with too many men on the ice. The Sharks’ power play passed effectively and got the puck to Mike Ricci behind the net. Ricci passed it out front to Patrick Marleau, who put the puck into the net high over Manny Legace.

Detroit continued to pressure offensively, and Legace made some big saves to cover his team’s defensive lapses. The Red Wings scored their first goal on their fourth power play attempt late in the first period during a hooking penalty to Gary Suter. Sergei Fedorov passed the puck from the left point up to Brendan Shanahan behind the goal line, and Shanahan passed it back to Jason Williams at the left faceoff dot. Williams took a quick wrist shot and put it into the net past goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, whose view of the puck was blocked by Tomas Holmstrom.

San Jose regained the lead early in the second period on another power play goal, this one on a penalty to Uwe Krupp. Owen Nolan got the puck as it bounced off the boards, then fired quickly on net, using Mathieu Dandenault as a screen to keep Legace from seeing the shot before the puck was in the net.

The Sharks scored again within a few minutes. A bad turnover by the Red Wings gave Nolan a breakaway. Legace stopped the first shot, but Nolan was able to pick up his own rebound and bank it into the net off the leg of his teammate, Vincent Damphousse.

Williams put Detroit back within one goal shortly thereafter. Kirk Maltby held the puck in at the blue line, then fired on net. Darren McCarty redirected the puck to slide underneath Nabokov, and Williams tapped it in for that extra speed it needed to cross the goal line.

The rest of the second period was all Sharks. Marleau scored two more times before the period was over, first by knocking a rebound from Marco Sturm’s shot out of the air and into the net, and then by intercepting a pass by Jiri Slegr and going in on Legace all alone.

The Wings did score once more, midway through the third period. Nabokov had been given a penalty for roughing Holmstrom (the penalty was served by Marleau), and Holmstrom was the one to make him pay for it. Igor Larionov shot the puck from the blue line, and Holmstrom deflected it into the net.

A fight started by Scott Thornton against Sean Avery and joined by the other skaters on the ice led to a double penalty to Avery and a single penalty to Bryan Marchment, leaving the Red Wings shorthanded and taking away their chance to come back from their two-goal deficit. Teemu Selanne took the puck into the left wing corner and passed down and across just as he was being hit. Mike Rathje, coming up the right wing side, got Selanne’s pass and put it off the crossbar and into the net past the beleaguered Legace.

The shots on goal were thirty-four to thirty-two in Detroit’s favor. The Red Wings will return home and have a few days off before facing the Chicago Blackhawks Wednesday night at Joe Louis Arena.

The Sharks’ victory tonight moves them past the Colorado Avalanche into second place in the Western Conference standings”¦. Luc Robitaille and Chris Chelios were both healthy scratches for this game”¦. Steve Yzerman is expected to return to the lineup Wednesday night against Chicago.

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