Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Ultimate Comeback Grants Sharks a 3-0 Series Lead

Today, the Sharks knew they were going to enter a serious and painful battle. Long has the Detroit Red Wings’ Joe Louis Arena been host to the San Jose Sharks’ misery. Of the forty-four total away games the Sharks have played in Detroit, only eight have been victorious. In addition, the Red Wings have been a great team this year to boot. As the game progressed, the Sharks looked as if they were playing an average game. Unfortunately, when your opponent is the Red Wings, average does not cut it.

Within the first period, the Red Wings’ Henrik Zetterberg had been able to sneak a puck past Sharks netminder Evgeni Nabokov, although the “shot” was later ruled a “kick in,” disallowing the goal to a torrent of boos from the emotional Joe Louis crowd. Shortly thereafter, Red Wings’ goalie screening expert Tomas Holmstrom snuck one by Nabokov with a tip in for a 1-0 Detroit lead, calming the crowd from the disallowed goal.

As Sharks fans were likely disappointed by the Red Wings’ first period domination, some hopes were rekindled when Nabokov brilliantly gloved the shot of Zetterberg, who had been awarded an unhindered penalty shot when a Sharks player covered the puck in the crease with his hand. The Red Wings shortly extended the lead to 2-0 with a snap shot from forward Daniel Cleary. As the first period winded down to its end, Sharks forward Devin Setoguchi slid the puck past Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard to make the score 2-1, with less than three seconds remaining in the period.

During the second period, Red Wings again extended their lead to two goals after Zetterberg finally put the puck past Nabokov, making the score 3-1. Due to the Sharks’ disappointing history in Detroit and the Red Wings’ brilliant play, it was clear to some that the Sharks were not going to be able to win. The Red Wings’ defensive lineup, primarily the Brian Rafalski-Nicklas Lidstrom pair, had been blocking numerous shots and clearing out potential Sharks scoring opportunities. It was then the Sharks knew they had to carry out nothing short of a miracle to come back against the dominant Red Wings team.

The third period started out with a bang in the Sharks’ favor, as they rose to the occasion and stepped up their performance pace. Railing Red Wings goaltender Howard with many shots on net, the Sharks knew they would eventually wear him down and start putting the pucks past him. Fortunately, the Sharks were right. Almost seven minutes into the third period, power forward Joe Thornton executes an unassisted goal, and seven minutes after that, rookie Logan Couture of the Sharks’ third line rallies to score as well, placing the Sharks and Red Wings at a dead-even tie. The fans of the Joe Louis Arena could not believe it. It was their home, their arena, their domain, and the Sharks were supposed to lose.

Although the Sharks gained an upper hand with a late game power play, they failed to take advantage, and the game was sent into overtime. Both teams played very well in the overtime period, although it was not until a fluke shot by a Red Wings defenseman when the Sharks finally took advantage. The shot missed the net and wrapped around the boards to a patiently waiting Joe Thornton, who quickly broke out of the Sharks’ defensive zone and into the Red Wings’ zone on a two on two. With incredible speed, Sharks’ star forward Patrick Marleau broke past two Red Wings players, where we had been able to receive a pass from Thornton, underneath an outstretched Brian Rafalski, and into the net left open by an over-aggressive Howard, sealing the Sharks’ victory and 3-0 series lead.

May the Sharks continue to play well on Thursday to sweep the Red Wings!

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