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Sharks blow lead and momentum
Wings tie it late, then win in OT
5/2/07 - by Mike Lee

Imagine if you will, the worst way to lose a hockey game. It wasn't game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, but San Jose's 3-2 overtime loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night was as painful as they come. Cruising with a 2-0 lead through all but 5 seconds in the 2nd period, the Sharks found a way to implode on home ice and shift the series momentum over to Detroit, who tied the series at 2-2.

Mathieu Schneider capped Detroit's improbable comeback with the game-winning power play goal at 16:04 of overtime on a shot that bounced off Sharks forward Patrick Rissmiller. Schneider intercepted a weak clearing attempt by Scott Hannan in the high slot, before pumping the 50-foot shot home. Hannan tried clearing the puck right up the guy from behind his own net, only to float it to Schneider.

Hannan's mistake was one of many blunders for the Sharks on a night that looked like it was going to end in San Jose's favor. Craig Rivet floated a puck over the glass to give Detroit the power play opportunity that would end the evening.

"Both loses in this series hurt but you have to bounce back," said Sharks head coach Ron Wilson. "Some of the same people in the same positions put their teammates down, those guys need to look in the mirror and say 'I got to do a better job because I'm letting all of my teammates down.' We have to put this game behind us, just like the last one and look forward to the next game."

Detroit's comeback bid started with a horrible cross checking penalty by Sharks defenseman Kyle McLaren with 10 seconds remaining in the 2nd period, while the Sharks still led 2-0. Detroit would win the ensuing faceoff and cycle the puck around the point as the clock ticked. Niklas Lidstrom floated the puck in on net from the left point, but Tomas Holmstrom swatted at the puck punching it past Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov.

"I thought Homer really helped our power play tonight coming back just his puck skills and his net front presence," said Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock. "It was unfortunate he broke his blade. You know I thought here we go we have a power play in overtime and we got no Homer because he broke his blade, but that's the way things go."

Nabokov deserved a better fate after stopping 46 shots on the night, but the loss would tilt his career playoff overtime record to 1-5.

Holmstrom's goal energized the Red Wings, who stored back from a 2-0 deficit in Game 2 of the series in Detroit to win that game by the same 3-2 score. This time Detroit would use the dramatic to knock the wind out of San Jose's Stanley Cup aspirations.

Detroit started the 3rd period with more zip and a Marcel Goc slashing penalty just 2:33 into the period set up a prime chance for the Red Wings to knot things up earlier in the period, but the Sharks killed off the penalty. The ice began to tilt in San Jose's favor, but a monster save by Domink Hasek on a Ryane Clowe shot at the 10 minute mark kept the game within reach for Detroit.

Chris Draper would take a delay of game penalty at 10:44 of the 3rd, but the Sharks power play unit fizzled as it has the entire post season. Their 0-for-5 performance in Game 4 slipped San Jose's man advantage efficiency to a meek 8.5% (4-for-47).

"I thought we played well. I thought they were better than us in the first eight minutes, and then I thought we were better than them," said Babcock. "They were up 2-0, I thought they got two huge breaks. They got a huge break in the face off circle when Thornton should have been kicked out before that first goal. They got a huge break when we had too many people on the ice and they ended up scoring a goal. Those are things that happen in hockey but if you stick to it and you work hard you get your breaks."

Detroit would capitalize late in the period after pulling Hasek with a minute to go in regulation. Valtteri Filppula fought off McLaren and chipped the puck up the boards to Robert Lang who skated in uncontested and rifled a shot past Nabokov with 33 seconds left in regulation.

"We got up two-nothing, and we need to realize in this game that you need to keep pushing forward and try to be better," said Rivet. "We seemed to be wanting to sit back and try and cover a lead, where that's not the right way to play in this league.

The sellout crowd was treated to a Jonathan Cheechoo goal late in the 1st period on a nifty setup by Joe Thornton after the Red Wings were caught shorthanded deep in their own zone. Thornton sat on the right wing for an eternity while Cheechoo skated in on the off wing. Hasek couldn't cover the left post fast enough after Cheechoo snapped a cross-ice pass from Thornton home.

Marcel Goc scored his 1st goal of the playoffs at 8:07 of the 2nd period on a shot that knuckled over Hasek on a delayed penalty after McLaren was hauled to the ice in front of the Red Wings net. Goc's presence was felt throughout the game, with high tempo skating that forced Detroit to react on the back check.

"It doesn't matter if they score first or we score first, or what time it is," said Goc. When we sit back, I think we're too passive. It's human nature to sit back after you lead, but we do it too much."


Mark Smith made his playoff debut, skating only 11 shifts. He did have 3 shots on goal in his limited ice time. Joe Thornton tied Jeff Norton's team record with an assist in 7 consecutive playoff games. Cheechoo's goal gave him tallies in 3 consecutive games, which is one shy of the franchise record held by Patrick Marleau, who has done it twice in his career.

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1 2 3 OT T
DET 0 1 1 1 3
SJ 1 1 0 0 2
1st period - 1, SJ, Cheechoo 3 (Thornton, Michalek), 17:52.
2nd period - 2, SJ, Goc 1 (Rissmiller), 8:07. 3, DET, Holmstrom 1 (Lidstrom, Schneider), 19:55, (pp).
3rd period - 4, DET, Lang 2 (Filppula), 19:26.
Overtime - 5, DET, Schneider 2 (unsassisted), 16:04, (pp).
1st period - Zetterberg, DET (tripping), 3:04; Franzen, DET (holding), 10:52; Cheechoo, SJ (tripping), 15:18; Rivet, SJ (hooking), 19:17.
2nd period - Team, DET (too many men), 3:11; Maltby, DET (slashing), 13:13; Cheechoo, SJ (cross checking), 13:13; McLaren, SJ (cross checking), 19:50.
3rd period - Goc, SJ (slashing), 2:33; Draper, DET (delay of game - puck over glass), 10:44.
Overtime - Schneider, DET (hooking), 6:28; Rivet, SJ (delay of game - puck over glass), 14:52.
  Shots Saves
DET - Hasek 27 25
SJ - Nabokov 49 46
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 OT T
DET 11 14 12 12 49
SJ 9 4 8 6 27
Power Play Conversion
DET 2 of 5
SJ 0 of 5
3 Stars of the Game
Mathieu Schneider
Evgeni Nabokov
Marcel Goc
Referees: Kelly Sutherland, Brad Watson. Linesmen: Derek Amell, Pierre Racicot.

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