Saturday, May 8, 2010

San Jose Sharks Advance to the Conference Finals!

Sharks fans knew Game Five was going to be an exciting, nail-biting performance – and boy did they get a show! Congratulations to the San Jose Sharks for advancing to the Western Conference Finals, and doing so at home in front of thousands of loyal fans! This is great news for the fans not only because the Sharks have beaten the typically-dominant Red Wings franchise, but because the Sharks have shown signs of knocking away their post-regular season misfortunes in order to position themselves well for their quest towards winning the Stanley Cup.

With a final score of 2-1, the Sharks defeat the Detroit Red Wings at four games to one, where they face off against either the Chicago Blackhawks or the Vancouver Canucks (as their series is currently three games to one, in the favor of the Blackhawks) in the next stage of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Sharks’ victory was by no means easy, as the Red Wings displayed their complete range of skill with their extremely talented roster of all-star players, and pulled no punches. Both of the Red Wings’ offense and defense were strong, not allowing the Sharks much opportunity to either score or defend their net from getting scored on, but the Sharks worked very hard and kept all that from happening.

The first period proved to be a real battle for both teams as the game remained scoreless for both teams the entire period. Fans were instilled with confidence, however, for their Sharks had been able to keep the puck in the Red Wings zone for most of the period, having many opportunities to score. Additionally, Sharks coach Todd McLellan knew from the prior game that there needed to be some added focus on some of the Red Wings offense, namely Johan Franzen, who had six points last game, and the usual suspects Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. Neither Zetterberg nor Datsyuk had a point the whole game, although Franzen had been able to eek out an assist for the Red Wings’ lonely goal.

Although the Sharks got off to a good start the second period, the tide turned in the favor of the Red Wings as they had been able to keep the puck firmly inside the Sharks’ zone for most of the period. The Red Wings were able to strike first as defenseman Brian Rafalski slapped it past Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov to make the game 1-0 Detroit. It did not take long for the Sharks to strike back, as a power play allowed fan favorite power forward Joe Thornton to bury it in front of a crowded net, making it 1-1 only two minutes later.

Since it was anyone’s game the third period, as it had been a tie game, both teams battled very hard. During an exciting moment when Joe Pavelski had poked the puck past the feet of the Red Wings defensemen to go against netminder Jimmy Howard, after which he was thwarted when he was hindered from behind, the referee granted him a penalty shot. With the San Jose crowd cheering wildly, Joe Paveski knew he was on the spot and had to score. Unfortunately, his shot only missed the mark by a little bit as it careened over Howard’s shoulder and into the crossbar. Sharks fans were quickly relieved, however, after forward Patrick Marleau released a wicked one-timer from the mid slot using a Joe Thornton feed to put the Sharks at a 2-1 lead. As this happened with ten minutes to go, this had been perhaps the most nail-biting portion of the game. While the Red Wings needed to score, the Sharks needed to only keep them from doing so, with smart plays in the defensive zone and well-timed puck dumps into the Red Wings’ zone from the red line.

Although the Red Wings had put up a very good fight, their efforts were unsuccessful. The Sharks kept the puck out of their net to grant them their victory in Gave Five.

Congratulations, Sharks! Now keep on going!

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