Photos by Aris Bernales/SFBay
SAP CENTER — Headed into their tilt against the Detroit Red Wings, there was concern that injuries to the Sharks’ forward line were going to catch up to them.
You wouldn’t have known it watching Thursday night’s game.
In fact, offense was the star of the show as Team Teal drowned the Red Wings 4-1 in the Eastern Conference foe’s only visit to the Tank in their 2014 campaign.
With 11 wins against the Wings in their past 14 meetings, is it safe to say that the Sharks had the advantage going into Thursday’s game? Dan Boyle, who scored in San Jose’s dominant second period, shrugged and said:
“You have success against certain teams. Then you have stats where — like in LA, we haven’t won in a while. We’ve been successful against Detroit for a little while, and I can’t explain it. It’s easy to get up and play against them.”
San Jose’s glowing record probably added to the chippy atmosphere and plethora of fisticuffs that highlighted most of the third period.
Most notably, a scuffle behind Detroit’s net where Todd Bertuzzi took his helmet off and chucked it at Tommy Wingels after a linesman broke up the fight. Joe Pavelski explained, that’s just the way the game goes sometimes:
“They’re a team, they have pride. And we’re playing well. And for whatever reason, it gets (that way).”
Joe Thornton got the Sharks’ scoring rampage started in the first. He took his time setting Pavelski up for a slap shot that beat Jimmy Howard to put the Sharks on the board 1-0 4:59 into the opening frame. Brent Burns also registered an assist.
Detroit tied it up before the period was over. The puck spent a lot of time in San Jose territory, and Tomas Tatar backhanded the puck high above Niemi’s shoulder to tie things up 1-1 with less than four minutes left before the first intermission.
The Sharks looked dominant on their first penalty kill of the evening during the second period, clearing every shot at Antti Niemi (25 saves) while Andrew Desjardins sat in the penalty box for hooking.
Not long after the kill, Desjardins got revenge with a high shot over Howard’s shoulder. Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Bracken Kearns tallied assists as San Jose took a 2-1 lead.
Head Coach Todd McLellan thought the second goal is what took the wind out of the Wings’ sails:
“I am sure that’s one Jimmy Howard would like to have back. The game was pretty even at that point. Not a lot of flow-type checking, similar to the first game we played in Detroit. That (second) goal kind of opened it up for us for awhile.”
Desjardins smiled when asked if he thought his goal fueled the rest of the team:
“It was just 2-1. I think the guys just fed off of it a little bit. The guys just put the gas down and just kept going with it.”
Pavelski added to the lead with his second goal of the night, grabbing possession of a Brad Stuart rebound and firing the puck into the back of Detroit’s net. Justin Braun also tallied an assist as the Sharks increased their lead 3-1. McLellan commented on Pavelski’s recent scoring streak:
“When the team really needs him,he elevates his game. That’s the sign of a real good player.”
The assault on Howard continued on the Sharks’ next power play. Jason Demers moved the puck up the ice and passed to Dan Boyle whose wrist shot pinched past the Detroit netminder’s right leg and just missed the goal post. Thornton totaled his second assist for the night as the home team’s fourth goal of the night.
No big surprise when Petr Mrazek took over between the pipes for the Wings at the start of the third frame.
The final five minutes of regulation got very heated, with teams racking up a collected seven penalties within less than two minutes. Neither team scored again.
The Sharks continue their homestand Saturday against the Boston Bruins. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
The Sharks are 11-2-1 against the Red Wings in their last 14 games. … Joe Pavelski scored twice tonight, and now has eight goals in last 10 games. ... Brent Burns, Joe Thornton, and Joe Pavelski have combined for 36 points in the last 10 games… Jason Demers extended his point-streak to four games, assisting on Dan Boyle’s power play goal ... Eriah Hayes played in his first Sharks home game, leading the team in hits with four.