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Game, set, match
Sharks season sputters to an end
5/7/07 - by Mike Lee

2nd round exists are becoming old news in San Jose. For the second consecutive year, the Sharks rolled over to a team they should have easily beaten. After winning two games in the series, San Jose packed it in against the Detroit Red Wings with a heartless 2-0 loss at home. Reminiscent of their debacle against the Edmonton Oilers last season, the Sharks played uninspired hockey against a Detroit team that made quick work of San Jose.

Former Shark Mikael Samuelsson scored a pair of goals 4 minutes apart in the 1st period, then the Red Wings leaned on Dominik Hasek, who turned aside all 28 shots he faced for the shutout.

"It's obviously a tough feeling," said Joe Thornton on San Jose's second straight 2nd round exit. "You never want to repeat what we did last year, but that's how it ended. We came out with a great start and believed we could win this game. They got some timely goals and we couldn't get anything past [Hasek]."

The Sharks get to spend another summer pondering their lackluster performance, which was capped by a shutout loss at home in an elimination game. All the talk of taking a talented team to the next level, turned out to be nothing more than lip service for a team that has underachieved once again.

"I'm shocked where we put ourselves in the series and how we let it get away," said Sharks head coach Ron Wilson. "But I'm not shocked that Detroit beat us. They finished ahead of us in the standings and they had a great season."

Detroit moves on to play Anaheim in the Conference Finals after keeping their game plan simple. Weather the storm the Sharks were sure to throw at them in the opening period, then capitalize on San Jose's mistakes. The plan worked perfectly.

The storm came in the form of sustained pressure by the Sharks, but a high-sticking double minor by Joe Thornton at the 9:19 mark prevented the Sharks for cashing in. Referees Don VanMassenhoven and Dan O'Halloran showed a little Red Wing envy by calling the penalty after Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock complained that Danny Markov had been cut after play had stopped for an icing call.

Hasek turned aside all 11 shots in the 1st period, then Samuelsson bit his former team with his 2nd goal of the playoffs. After slipping past Sharks defenseman Matt Carle at the blueline, the Red Wings forward took a lead pass from Johan Franzen then raced in on Evgeni Nabokov and depositing the puck for the 1-0 lead at 15:2 of the period.

Hasek teased the Sharks with a patented fumble of the puck in his own end three minutes later, when he turned it over to Mike Grier after skating out of his crease. Grier scooped up the puck then raced around the back of the net in an attempt to wrap the puck around the left post, but Detroit defenseman Niklas Lidstrom hustled back to the net and blocked Grier's scoring attempt with an outstretched stick across the goal line.

Stung by the missed opportunity, the Sharks let down their guard late in the period and faltered with another defensive lapse. Pavel Datsyuk sprung Samuelsson up the right wing boards as time was winding down in the period, on a 2-on-1 break. Samuelsson carried the puck up ice before snapping a shot over Nabokov's left shoulder with 8 seconds remaining in the period.

"I think sitting back is what killed us," said Sharks captain Patrick Marleau. "We did a good job of getting up in the games, but we sat back and let them come at us. We've talked about it all series, the games they won, we were in control most of the game."

Detroit would sit on the 2-goal lead, led by the ageless wonders, Lidstrom, defenseman Chris Chelios and Hasek. The Red Wings netminder faced 10 shots in the 2nd period, including a breakaway attempt by Steve Bernier that was snuffed with a circus save.

San Jose came out flying in the final period in a last ditch effort to extend their season, but the chaotic attack was easily controlled by the Red Wings trap. San Jose began the period on the power play, but as has been the case the entire post season, the Sharks 2nd ranked power play was a farce.

San Jose went 0-for-4 on the man advantage, ending their playoff run with a pathetic 7.5% conversion rate on a combined 4-for-53 performance in the post season.

"I thought we competed hard," said Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock. "They threw everything at us, and we knew that was going to happen. We thought if we were patient, they would over-pinch, and be over-aggressive and we would get 2-on-1's and get our opportunities and in the end that's what happened."

Notes:

The Sharks lost a 5th consecutive game when facing elimination in the playoffs. In contrast, Detroit won for the 11th consecutive time when faced with a chance to advance.



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Scoring
1 2 3 T
DET 2 0 0 2
SJ 0 0 0 0
1st period - 1, DET, Samuelsson 2 (Franzen, Chelios), 15:26. 2, DET, Samuelsson 3 (Datsyuk, Chelios), 19:52.
2nd period - None.
3rd period - None.
 
Penalties
1st period - Cleary, DET (roughing), 3:11; Michalek, SJ (roughing), 3:11; Calder, DET (hooking), 6:48; Thornton, SJ (high sticking - double minor), 9:19; Cheechoo, SJ (interference), 15:39.
2nd period - Calder, DET (hooking), 3:11; Checlios, DET (hooking), 19:51.
3rd period - Hannan, SJ (roughing), 3:19; Quincey, DET (slashing), 5:48.
Overtime - Schneider, DET (hooking), 6:28; Rivet, SJ (delay of game - puck over glass), 14:52.
Goaltending
  Shots Saves
DET - Hasek 28 28
SJ - Nabokov 22 20
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
DET 10 5 7 22
SJ 11 10 7 28
Power Play Conversion
DET 0 of 4
SJ 0 of 4
3 Stars of the Game
Mikael Samuelsson
Dominik Hasek
Chris Chelios
Attendence
17,496
Officials
Referees: Dan O'Halloran, Don VanMassenhoven. Linesmen: Mike Cvik, Brian Murphy.

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