Sharks Match Red Wing Intensity In Game Two
“We knew tonight that they were going to come out and play hard----“Joe Thornton
The San Jose Sharks were back on the ice Sunday afternoon at HP Pavilion taking on the Detroit Red Wings in game two of the Stanley Cup semi-final round. Winning game one in overtime courtesy of birthday boy Benn Ferriero by the score of 2-1, San Jose is looking to take a two game advantage into Detroit for games 3 and 4.
San Jose was first on the board when #9 Ian White scored his first goal of the playoffs assisted by #15 Dany Heatley (3rd assist) and #29 Ryane Clowe (4th assist) for the 1-0 lead. Able to kill a four minute penalty called on #78 Benn Ferriero for high-sticking, the Sharks started the period with the same intensity that they had finished with on Friday night. It was an intensity that they would be called upon to maintain for the entire game. The passion and power of this game was evidenced by the number of penalties that began to mount on both sides. As the period near completion San Jose had 42 seconds with a 3 on 5 but was unable to cash in and the score remained 1-0 after one.
Sustained intensity would be the call for the second period. Keeping the foot on the pedal was a must and any sort of let-down was out of the question for San Jose. Two determined teams took the ice in the period and a high-powered game ensued with neither team able to score. San Jose had taken 26 shots on goal to Detroit’s 21. Both Joe’s, Thornton and Pavelski, have voiced it over and over again; you take every shot possible and one is bound to go in, it’s just the law of averages. Defending a one goal lead is a tall order and it’s precarious and fragile at best. Despite playing two great periods, the Sharks would have to kick it up a notch or two in the third to hang onto this game.
And kick it up they did with a goal scored by #7 Niclas Wallin assisted by #29 Ryane Clowe (5th assist) and # 39 Logan Couture at 1:39. San Jose had a little breathing room for the first time in the game 2-0. Gritty and determined described San Jose’s play in the third period. Goalie Antti Niemi fought off shot after shot in a powerful performance. Detroit broke through at 13:58 to score a power play goal pulling to within one, 2-1. #40 Henrik Zetterberg scored his first goal of the playoffs to cut the deficit. With less than two minutes left in the game the tank was rocking as the Red Wing goal emptied and the Sharks had seconds left to secure a 2-0 game lead going into Detroit.
As expected, the Red Wings came into this game with urgency playing a much improved game over Friday night’s game. San Jose knew it was coming and they were prepared and answered the challenge playing what was probably their best game in the playoffs to win game two, 2-1...
“We played good defense. That’s how we won the majority of our games in the second half of the year,” said Joe Thornton after the game. The entire team knew that the Red Wings would bring more intensity to this game and the Sharks matched it. “We knew tonight that they were going to come out and play hard and we did a good job matching it and finally we got that first goal. That was key for us,” said Thornton.
Being ready for Detroit was a theme that ran through the locker room. “Tonight we knew that they were going to come out and be hard on us and they didn’t disappoint,” said Jason DeMers. “We were ready for them and everyone contributed on the physicality side of it and it was good to see that we could push back from being pushed,” he said.
Coach Todd McLellan knew a real battle from the Red Wings in Sunday’s game was coming. “We expected a much better night from them (Detroit) and we got it. Obviously they were markedly better and they played very hard minutes in our zone,” he said. “If anybody let’s their guard whether it’s us or them, the other team’s going to make them pay.”
The Detroit Red Wings backs are now against the wall as they head back to Joe Lewis. While San Jose has had success there, this is a new year and a new post-season and nothing is a given. I’ll take that back; the only given is that game three will be a battle between two closely matched teams. They will meet next Wednesday at 5:00 PT.