Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Wings 2, Sharks 5

The Wings never had much of a chance last night in San Jose and lost 5-2. They never had a lead in the game and were down by at least one goal for the majority of the time. Curtis Joseph was supposed to get the start game but because he tweaked his ankle in the pre-game warmup, Manny Legace played instead. 1st Period The first nine minutes of the period were marked by numerous stoppages of play due to offsides and icings, making for some pretty choppy and boring hockey. The Wings had more chances than the Sharks but they were fairly second-rate overall. San Jose opened the scoring with sort of a fluke goal at 7:42. A centering pass from the corner bounced off Derian Hatcher's skate, right to Scott Hannan who shot it past a helpless Manny Legace. Sloppy defensive coverage on the Wings part, especially since Hannan is a defenseman who walked up to 10 feet or so in front of the net. The game opened up a little after that and the Sharks got their second goal two minutes later from Jonathan Cheechoo at 9:40. Manny made a great save on the initial shot but the puck trickled out to Cheechoo who took it around the back of the net and roofed it over Legace, who made one or two more saves before it finally went in. More sloppy defense by the Wings. The Wings continued to play stand-around-and-watch-until-the-last-second defense and pass-the-puck-at-all-costs offense until Pavel Datsyuk got the Wings on the board at 18:27. He took the feed from Brett Hull, who had stolen the puck along the boards, stepped around a falling Sharks player and proceeded to deke the heck out of Nabokov before stuffing the puck in the open net. It was his 50th career goal and yet another result of a "Datsyukian Deke," as Ken Daniels says. The Wings got a couple more good chances before the end of the period, most notably the glorious chance Yzerman had all alone in front of the net off a great pass from Hull. He was hooked just as he got the shot off, though, and did not score. Shots were 17-9 Wings. Second Period The Wings came out with more jump this period, getting good chances and keeping the flow going for much of the time. They got a power play early on but couldn't convert even though they had a good setup and some quality chances for most of it. Boyd Devereaux couldn't capitalize on a glorious chance off a Holmstrom steal at around 13:00. Boyd had a strong game through two periods, though. Jonathan Cheechoo scored his second of the game when I blinked so I missed how exactly it developed (the replay showed nothing but the actual goal, from a crappy angle too). Apparently, it came off the boards somehow and came right to Cheechoo who has been red-hot lately. He sent it over Manny's shoulder in the only puck-sized slot available right into the net. The kind of goal guys who are on fire score. That was at 7:12 and the Wings finally responded about five minutes later. Tomas Holmstrom, another Wing who had a strong game through two, took the puck in by himself along the boards, pivoted and centered it right to Jiri Fischer who ripped it right past Nabokov through Mark Mowers' screen to make the score 3-2. Solid goal by the Wings and I began to hope that they'd keep it up. Unfortunately, Evgeni Nabokov had other ideas. Shots were 15-4. Third Period San Jose made it 4-2 at 6:10 of the third when Manny was knocked down behind the net as Anders Myrvold pushed his man towards the end boards. From what I could tell on the replay, the Sharks player looked to maneuver himself so his rear-end would slam into Legace. It wasn't completely accidental, in my opinion, and the Wings had a legitimate gripe when the actual goal was scored. The puck came out front and bounced off Alex Korolyuk's skate into the completely empty net. Myrvold was upset about the whole thing but mistakes like that happen to everyone. I don't fault him for it. At about 7:15, Nabokov stoned Hull right in front of the net after Brett received the pass from Datsyuk. That set the tone for the rest of the Wings' chances all night as they could get nothing past Nabokov even though they had many glorious chances. There were at least two separate occasions where Datsyuk and Devereaux were denied in the final 20 minutes. At 15:51, Vincent Damphousse ended the scoring after he stuffed in the rebound off the initial shot from Patrick Marleau. Manny made a great stop close in but the puck trickled over his shoulder to where Damphousse was able to get it. Another result of poor defensive coverage. Shots were 7-7 and 39-20 overall. Notes Derian Hatcher looked sloppy in his return after missing three games with a bruised/separated shoulder ... I continue to be impressed with Anders Myrvold's strong play and physical style ... Henrik Zetterberg looks like he is about to break out with some big games. He has been playing very well offensively lately, though he was minus-3 last night ... Manny is still playing well but is nowhere near the form he was in a week to ten days ago ... Colorado tied Chicago 2-2 last night and is just five points back of Detroit for the Conference lead ... The win last night put the Sharks five points behind the Wings as well and they clinched a playoff spot ... The Wings are 1-2-1 so far in this five-game road trip. The next game is Thursday in Colorado ... Joseph is questionable for that game after he tweaked his ankle in the pre-game warmup. Tests will be conducted on Friday when the Wings return home but they will see how he responds today before deciding who will play tomorrow night ... Kirk Maltby had a daughter, Ella, Monday night and he may join up with the Wings in Denver for tomorrow's game ... Schneider missed his second consecutive game with a groin injury but may return tomorrow night. "The way it's progressed the last couple days, I'm hoping to play Thursday." ...


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