A late comeback in the third gave the Red Wings something to smile about in the Golden State. Luke Glendening scored the game winning goal late in regulation to give Detroit a 3-2 win over the San Jose Sharks at SAP Arena on Thursday night. The victory gives them a one point margin behind Tampa Bay for second place.
The Red Wings and Sharks are both looking for wins in their first meeting with each other this season. San Jose has won two of their last seven games including losing their Stadium Series match against the Los Angeles Kings. Detroit is on a two game slid also losing to the surging Kings Tuesday resulting in a 1-0 loss. Goaltender Jonas Gustavsson made a strong showing with 26 saves in his first start since late November. With Johan Franzen out of the lineup and captain Henrik Zetterberg still questionable both teams might find some struggle to occur on either side of the puck.
Neither team recorded a shot on goal for almost five minutes until the Sharks broke out with Melker Karlsson firing from the far end with Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard made the glove save. The Sharks were the only team shooting, firing five more shots where the last went in the back of the net giving Matt Irwin his sixth of the season. The Red Wings got a shot on goal with eight minutes into the period and still struggled to gain puck possession against San Jose.
Detroit got their first power play needing to improve after a disastrous showing against the Kings going 0 for 5. The two minute advantage came and left with the Sharks still dominating the time with the puck going 10-2 on shots to the net. The Sharks went on their second power play where Detroit did well killing off the penalty but at the end of the period, the Sharks were still on top of them.
At the start of the second, the Red Wings looked to have regrouped coming out to pressure Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi putting four shots on the net. They kept at it on their second power play where Stephen Weiss took a shot where he later found teammate Teemu Pulkkinen on the stick side to score his second of the season putting the Red Wings on an even level with their former Western Conference rivals.
The Sharks pulled ahead three minutes later on the man advantage where Patrick Marleau scored his 13th goal on a snap shot near the crease of Howard. Detroit got physical with the Sharks with Joakim Andersson going after Irwin where they took wrestled each other on the ice until referees could break them up.
Niemi was working through all the shots the Red Wings were shooting at him in order to hold the Sharks’ one goal lead. In the final minutes, the Finnish goalie made three huge point blank shots that sent the crowd to their feet. He had his eyes on the puck where he the tough shots were stopped in a way that made it look so easy. Though the Red Wings got on the board, their response of 18 shots to the net showed that they were not out of the woods with the third period left to play.
The Red Wings were aware of the situation and used their best shooters to get one into the net. On a play with Pavel Datsyuk, Gustav Nyquist had his stick turned the right way where he took a near perfect angle only to hit the post on the stick side of Niemi. Detroit earned a lengthy power play on a high sticking call to Matt Nieto putting the Sharks on the hot seat. In a stunning show of support, the team and Niemi sealed the shooting line shut making the Red Wings try to come up with other ideas to get the game tied. They made numerous shots where Datsyuk sent a backhander low through traffic to get the Red Wings in a 2-2 tie with 6:30 left in regulation.
The Red Wings were still working hard on offense while time was falling off the clock as they looked for the go ahead goal to put the Sharks on the ball. It was Glendening to get the job done for the Red Wings as he took a backhander to get his eighth with 1:15 left in the game. “Abby and Gus made a great play there and I was fortunate to come right out to me,” said Glendening to Fox Sports Detroit reporter Trevor Thompson.
A mistake showed its face for Detroit as they committed a penalty where the Sharks went for the sixth man to make it 6 on 4. Detroit somehow held on to clear the puck three times until the horn sounded the end the game and give Detroit a win where they still haven’t dropped back to back losses in regulation.
Howard had a great showing in the match against the Sharks stopping 20 of 22 with a .909 save percentage. Though Niemi lost the game, he was nothing short of tremendous making 32 saves where most where on his fast glove and tight stance near the net. He finds himself on a two game losing streak where him playing his best for the wins is what will keep the Sharks in the hunt for a playoff spot.
“We were frustrated, but we knew they were a good team battling for a playoff spot and this is our first win on this trip in California so a big two points,” said Glendening about the game. The day of rest made a difference in their game finding enough energy to finish off strong. They get another one before ending their road trip facing the resurgent Nashville Predators who are sitting at the top of the standings in the Western Conference.