Tuesday, March 23, 2004

GameDay: @ San Jose (37-20-12-6, 92) 10:30 EST

Tonight is the fourth and final meeting between the Wings and Sharks. The Wings lead the season series 2-1. December 17, the Wings beat the Sharks 3-2 OT in the Joe. Curtis Joseph got the start and Henrik Zetterberg got a goal and two assists. Pavel Datsyuk tied the game up on the power play and with an empty net at 19:41. Brendan Shanahan got the game-winning goal in overtime. January 19, the Wings lost to the Sharks 2-1 in HP Pavilion Arena ("The Shark Tank"). Evgeni Nabokov had 34 saves for the Sharks, and Steve Yzerman scored the Wings' only goal at 10:00 in the third. Curtis Joseph got the start. February 11, the Wings beat the Sharks 4-2 in the Joe. Steve Yzerman had two goals and Manny Legace got the start. The Wings have lost their last two games in San Jose, and three of their last four there. The Wings are 8-2-2 in their last twelve decisions. They are coming off a tough 8-6 loss to the Mighty Ducks Sunday night. In the game, the Wings dressed only five defenseman, two of which were Griffins. The entire team blew coverage, and left Manny Legace, then Curtis Joseph out to dry on several occasions. While many goaltender-haters surfaced in Hockeytown the next morning, that loss really came down to poor defensive coverage, especially near the crease. It was the first time Manny has been pulled this season: "It was just a pond hockey game. That's all it was. No defense, just strictly offense." The Wings are leading the league with 99 points, and can become the first team to notch 100 points tonight, which would be the fifth straight 100-point season in Hockeytown. The Wings hold a six point lead on the Avs, whom we are facing in an away-home series March 25 and March 27. The San Jose Sharks are 9-4-1-1 in their last fifteen decisions. They are coming off a tough 5-2 loss to the hungry Edmonton Oilers Sunday night. In the game, Edmonton scored three unanswered goals after the game was at a 2-2 tie midway through the second. The Sharks are currently the third seed in the West at 92 points, leading the Pacific Division by one point over Dallas. They hope to secure home ice advantage for at least the first round by keeping their division lead. Kirk Maltby should be back with the team for Thursday's game in Denver. He's in Detroit to attend the birth of his first child. Ryan Barnes played a 14-second shift versus Anaheim, and may get in there tonight. Derian Hatcher and Mathieu Schneider are both questionable for tonight. Curtis Joseph will likely get the start tonight, as he's beaten (27-7) the Sharks more than any other goaltender in the league.


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