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Sharks draw first blood
Defensive gem leads to 2-0 win
4/26/07 - by Mike Lee

Hockeytown turned out to be the best place the Sharks could showcase their defensive skills, putting on a clinic in San Jose's 2-0 win over the host Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena on Thursday night. Louis would have been proud of the 1-2 combination the Sharks threw at the Red Wings in the opening period, scoring a pair of goals 24 seconds apart.

Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov looked more like vintage Dominik Hasek, turning aside all 34 shots he faced en route to his 5th career playoff shutout. Conversely, Hasek only faced 19 shots all night, including 3 in the 2nd period, but 2 of those shots found the back of the net midway through the 1st period.

The series opening shutout was the 4th in Red Wings history.

Not knowing what to expect from each other, both teams used the first 5 minutes of the contest to feel each other out, playing tentatively in the offensive zone. Pavel Datsyuk had a chance to score early when a pin-balling puck ended up on his stick as he sat parked on the Sharks doorstep. Nabokov calmly centered himself in goal to deny the Red Wings sniper, who hesitated to get off a shot.

The Sharks broke the ice, midway through the opening period when Matt Carle deposited a Joe Thornton pass past Hasek on the power play after Niklas Lidstrom was sent to the penalty box for hooking. Thornton weaved a centering pass through the slot from his perch down low in the right corner. Carle cut backdoor up the left wing, one-timing the pass for the 1-0 lead.

Mike Grier struck on the very next shift, converting a Red Wings turnover into his 2nd goal of the playoffs. Curtis Brown intercepted a clearing pass at the blueline, before chipping it to Patrick Rissmiller. The rookie forward overskated the pass, but got enough of it with his stick to redirect is to the low slot. Grier swatted at it, while spinning away from Mathieu Schneider to beat Hasek with a blast that found the net just inside the left post.

Detroit head coach Mike Babcock would use his timeout to regroup the stunned Red Wings, but the offensive damage had been done.

San Jose opened the door for the Red Wings in the 2nd period, by starting a parade to the penalty box. Marc-Edouard Vlasic was sent off for chipping the puck over the glass at 6:53. The Sharks killed Vlasic's penalty by out-skating the Wings.

Thornton would commit a questionable tripping penalty behind the Red Wings net three minutes later, while the Sharks were pressing on the forecheck. Detroit would put 10 shots on Nabokov, primarily on the power play, which included another tripping infraction to Sharks defenseman Christian Ehrhoff.

Kirk Maltby came as close to scoring as Detroit was going to get all night, but ringing a shot off the cross bar late in the period.

A strong presence in the neutral zone would contain the Red Wings who tried to open the game up by moving more of the attack to the outside, but San Jose defense buckled down. Detroit would out shoot the Sharks 13-6 in the final period, but Nabokov made the saves and contained the puck without giving up any rebounds for Detroit to capitalize on.

Babcock pulled Hasek with 1:28 to play, but the Red Wings couldn't muster much offensively. Todd Bertuzzi would attempt a wraparound try with 2 seconds left on the clock, but Nabokov calmly brushed it aside, as the Sharks brushed aside the Red Wings for the series opening win.


Detroit had several players on the shelf, including Tomas Holmstrom (eye), Brett Lebda (ankle, concussion), and Niklas Kronwall (back). Henrik Zetterberg skated, even though he's nursing a herniated disk in his back. The Sharks are still without the services of Mark Smith.

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1 2 3 T
SJ 2 0 0 2
DET 0 0 0 0
1st period - 1, SJ, Carle 2 (Thornton, Clowe), 9:45, (pp). 2, SJ, Grier 2 (Rissmiller, Brown), 10:09.
2nd period - None.
3rd period - None.
1st period - Lidstrom, DET (hooking), 8:17.
2nd period - Vlasic, SJ (delay of game - puck over glass), 6:53; Thornton, SJ (tripping), 9:35; Ehrhoff, SJ (tripping), 13:59.
3rd period - None.
  Shots Saves
SJ - Nabokov 34 34
DET - Hasek 19 17
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 10 3 6 19
DET 11 10 13 34
Power Play Conversion
SJ 1 of 1
DET 0 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
Evgeni Nabokov
Mike Grier
Kris Draper
Referees: Paul Devorski, Dennis LaRue. Linesmen: Greg Devorski, Brad Lazarowich.

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