The Detroit Red Wings dropped their 7th straight game on Monday night/Tuesday morning, losing 5-3 to the San Jose Sharks. There were positives in the game, as Tyler Bertuzzi had 3 assists, Henrik Zetterberg passed Ted Lindsay on the Wings’ all-time goal-scoring list, Gustav Nyquist had a goal and an assist, and most of the Wings’ youngsters…learned…
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) March 13, 2018
But Detroit has still dropped 7 straight games (0-6-and-1), the Red Wings made some dumb defensive mistakes over the course of their loss(es), and Detroit’s veterans appear to be spinning their wheels at times while fans growl as Evgeny Svechnikov and Martin Frk sit on the bench.
Our friends from San Jose have an urgency that the Red Wings cannot match in that they are battling for a playoff spot, and the Sharks were relieved to pull out a win on Monday evening, as the San Francisco Chronicle’s Ross McKeon noted:
In front of division rivals Los Angeles by two points and Anaheim by three, second-place San Jose dives into the busiest part of its March schedule hoping it has enough game to hold onto a playoff spot.
“This was an important win for us,” Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said. “We’ve got a tough schedule coming up on the road in some tough buildings.”
The Sharks open a stretch of three games in four nights on Wednesday in Edmonton before moving to Calgary and Vancouver on Friday and Saturday, respectively. It begins a segment of 10 games in 18 nights, only three of them at home.
That’s why it was important to make it a 4-2 homestand instead of looking past the Wings.
“This whole homestand we could have started better, but it didn’t really stop us from playing, competing, and we found ways to win games,” captain Joe Pavelski said. “Tonight we understood if we won this game, it would be a pretty successful homestand. And now we get to leave with a little momentum.”
Five skaters scored goals and goalie Martin Jones made 23 saves on a night when the game was played a little more open than maybe DeBoer wanted.
“We did enough to get the win,” he said. “It wasn’t a textbook game. I thought the Red Wings played really hard. We found a way.”
Pavelski continued while speaking with the Mercury News’s Paul Gackle…
“We’ve got to keep trying to build that (lead in the standings),” captain Joe Pavelski said. “You know how hard you’ve worked to get a couple points ahead. You can’t expect to let that go and then climb back.”
The Sharks stayed ahead of the fray by getting goals from three of their four lines, the type of balance attack that is crucial to success in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The top line opened the scoring at 10:55 of the first when Jones Donskoi recorded just his third goal in 26 games on a Sharks rush play. Evander Kane, who’s earned six points in six games with the Sharks, set Donskoi up with a shot into a wide-open net after he received a cross-ice pass from Joe Pavelski, forcing an over-commitment from goalie Jimmy Howard.
The fourth line scored 1:44 later when Eric Fehr gave the Sharks a 2-1 lead by scoring his first goal with the team. Fehr, who joined the Sharks in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 20, recorded his first NHL tally since Jan. 18, 2017 by redirecting a point shot from Brenden Dillon on a delayed Red Wings penalty.
After spending all but four games this season in the minor leagues before joining the Sharks, Fehr couldn’t even remember his last NHL goal.
“Sadly, I don’t,” he said. “I’ll remember this one. It’s always nice to get your first with a team.”
If anything surprised me in this game, it was the amount of respect the Sharks paid to the Red Wings in their post-game remarks. The Sharks made it clear that the Red Wings were a speedy, hard-working team that didn’t give San Jose an inch, as NHL.com’s Eric Gilmore noted…
“At this time of the year, any time you don’t bring your ‘A’ effort and your ‘A’ game, you’re not going to come out on top against anybody,” DeMelo said. “They’re no slouch either. They’ve got a lot of skill and speed. We kind of fell into a trap a little bit there in the second period and gave up a lot of odd-man rushes, but I think we cleaned it up and had a real good third period.”
The Red Wings took a 1-0 lead at 5:01 of the first period on Daley’s wrist shot from the slot. Joonas Donskoi scored at 10:55 on an odd-man rush to tie it 1-1.
The Sharks took a 2-1 lead at 12:39 when Eric Fehr deflected Brenden Dillon‘s point shot past Howard. The goal was Fehr’s first with the Sharks, who acquired him in a trade from the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 20.
“We got the start that we wanted, and then we made some key mistakes there in the first (period), some turnovers, and resulted in them doing some forechecking and getting some goals,” Howard said.
Kevin Labanc increased San Jose’s lead to 3-1 at 1:39 of the second period, poking a rebound between Howard’s pads. Nyquist scored at 5:05 of the second to make it 3-2.
Detroit (26-32-11) trails the New Jersey Devils by 15 points for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.
“We want to go win a game [at the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday],” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “We’ve lost too many games in a row here, so we need to win that, we need to go with some type of desperation. We need to keep playing the right kind of hockey that allows us to grow.”
And the AP’s game recap will serve as our pivot point between the Sharks and Red Wings’ perspectives:
“This was an important win for us,” coach Peter DeBoer said. “Obviously we got a tough schedule coming up. We go on the road and some tough buildings. It was important we got the win tonight. We did enough to get the win. It wasn’t a textbook game, but we did a lot of good stuff.”
“We have to limit our mistakes,” Howard said. “If we’re going to be successful out there we can’t make the mistakes that we do because they kill us.”
The teams then traded goals early in the third, with Meier scoring on the power play when he deflected a shot from Mikkel Boedker and Zetterberg answering for Detroit off a nice pass from Nyquist.
That goal moved Zetterberg into sole possession of fifth place for the Red Wings with his 336th, breaking a tie with Ted Lindsay.
“Ted means a lot to me, so passing him and doing it in this building too where I played my first NHL game is really special,” Zetterberg said.
I stayed up until 4:30 AM waiting for the Free Press’s Helene St. James or the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan to post recaps with quotes (I did other things, too, and all I got from Kulfan that’s fit to print is this…
Don’t look now, but the Red Wings (26-32-11) are positioning themselves for an early pick with their selection in the first round (they also have Vegas’, which will be further down the first round).
Only Arizona (55 points), Buffalo (56), Ottawa (59), Vancouver (59), and Montreal (62) have fewer points than the Red Wings.
And with three difficult games remaining on this West Coast trip (Los Angeles, Anaheim, Colorado), plus games against Philadelphia, Washington and Toronto next week, the schedule hardly looks any easier.
Which makes one wonder, how low in the standings can the Red Wings actually finish?
And this (makes me think we have a fatalist in the room)…
Daley, with his ninth goal of the season — including four in the last nine games — and assist on Nyquist’s goal, continues with a second half offensive surge.
And, looking ahead to next season, if the Red Wings are in similar dire straits, Daley will be a very attractive piece at the trade deadline for a team looking for a steady, playoff-tested veteran defenseman (with one more year left on his contract after next season).
So let’s go out with a positive note, like this one from DetroitRedWings.com’s Dana Wakiji:
2. Tyler Bertuzzi: Before the game, Wings coach Jeff Blashill said it was only a matter of time before Bertuzzi recorded a goal. Bertuzzi has had plenty of chances but has been a little snakebit. Although the goals have not come, the points have. Bertuzzi assisted on Daley’s goal in the first period and on Nyquist’s goal in the second. In fact, Bertuzzi was very close to putting in the rebound right before Nyquist did. Bertuzzi also assisted on Zetterberg’s third-period goal, giving him three assists for the game. In his last seven games, Bertuzzi has seven assists. His last goal was Jan. 22 at New Jersey.
Quotable: “I thought Tyler was excellent. I think he’s a real bright spot for us. I think he’s got a real bright future. I think he can become a heck of a player. He needs to become a little stronger and a little faster. That’s going to happen this offseason. I believe he has the determination. He’s been hurt that last couple of summers, but he’s got poise, he’s got hockey sense. He’s real good with the puck. I think there’s a real bright future there.” – Blashill
Quotable II: “I think he’s been playing really well since he got up here and I don’t know how many games we’ve played together now with Gus and me. I thought we’ve been creating a lot of chances but haven’t really gotten any results or goals, so it was nice to see we got a few tonight.” – Zetterberg
There is hope, if you want to find it…
Highlights: NHL.com posted a 4:41 highlight clip…
The Red Wings posted a clip of comments from Henrik Zetterberg, Gustav Nyquist, Jimmy Howard and coach Jeff Blashill:
Photos: The Free Press posted a 7-image gallery;
The Detroit News posted an 11-image gallery;
The Mercury News embedded a 20-image gallery in its website’s recap;
ESPN posted a 33-image gallery;
Here’s the Game Summary…
And the Event Summary:
The final shot attempts were 60-48 San Jose on the Sharks’ 34-26 shot advantage. Detroit was out-shot 13-6 in the 3rd period.
Also of Red Wings-related note: in the prospect department, in the Swedish Allsvenskan playoffs, Gustav Lindstrom did not play in Almtuna IS’s 4-2 loss to IF Bjorkloven. Almtuna leads their best-of-seven series 2-0.