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Rookie D-men no match for Red Wings
Detroit exploits youngsters
11/30/10 - By Mike Lee -

Playing the best team in the NHL with a depleted roster isn’t exactly the tailor made scenario the Sharks had hoped for heading into their first meeting of the season with the Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings also had the motivation of payback for the playoff tail kicking they received from the Sharks last spring. That motivation and rudimentary mistakes by the Sharks youngsters was all Detroit needed to steam roll the Sharks 5-3 at HP Pavilion on Tuesday night.

With Jason Demers, Kent Huskins and Niklas Wallin all on the fence with injuries, the Sharks were forced to throw five rookies into key situations. The youngsters got a lesson in what it takes to play at the NHL level, by a lineup that knows a thing or two about hunting as a pack.

"I just thought that the big thing is that we were able to take advantage of their defense tonight," siad Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock. "We knew coming in that was going to be an issue for them and we spent some minutes in their zone."

The Red Wings struck 4:50 into the game on the power play after Jamal Mayers was sent off for high sticking. Dan Cleary redirected a Henrik Zetterberg pass while perched on the Sharks doorstep. Valteri Filppula sent a rink wide pass from the left side to Zetterberg who reciprocated with a pass to the top of the crease where Cleary easily got a stick down for the redirect past Antero Niittymaki.

Pavel Datsyuk made it 2-0 Detroit three minutes later by splitting two Shark defenders, then drawing Niittymaki out before sliding a pass into a wide open net. Datsyuk made Marc-Edouard Vlasic and rookie Justin Braun look foolish on the play by bulldozing through the two blueliners to hang Niitymaki out to drive.

An interference penalty to Thomas Holmstrom would help the Sharks cut into the Red Wings lead at 8:19. Dany Heatley was credited with his 12th goal of the season when a Joe Thornton shot from the right corner deflected off his skate and past Jimmy Howard.

The Sharks would pay the price for a Logan Couture tripping penalty early in the 2nd period. Zetterberg swatted a knee-high deflection past Niittymaki after a Brian Rafalski pass was tipped by a sharks defender in the slot. Zeterberg was cruising through the zone when the puck floated in front of him.

Benn Ferriero would draw the Sharks back to a one-goal deficit just under two minutes later with a nice effort in front of the Detroit goal. Jamie McGinn threw a puck on net with Ferriero parked in front of Howard. The shot hit Howard then trickled to the left side of the goal. With his back to the goal, Ferriero swept a backhand chance just inside the left post for this 2nd goal in as many games.

The Red Wings sunk the dagger in the Sharks with 10.8 seconds left in the period when Patrick Eaves was credited with deflecting a shot by Cleary past Niittymaki. The Red Wings got away with two blatant trips in the neutral zone to gain control of the puck then converted after the Sharks failed to clear the zone. It didn’t help that San Jose also had four youngsters on the ice in the final minute, lacking the instincts to clear the puck as time was winding down in the period.

The inexperience of the Sharks blueline was exposed in the 3rd period. The Red Wings seemed to roam the Sharks zone at will. An ill-advised pass by rookie Mike Moore would end up in the Sharks net after Datsyuk intercepted it and made a feed to Zetterberg for another goal at 7:55.

Scott Nichol let off a little steam after he was slashed by Niklas Kronwall. The Sharks veteran returned the favor by introducing his stick to the back of Kronwall’s calf, before dropping a couple of shots on the Red Wing forward’s chin. The extracurricular activity would land Nichol in the box for 4 minutes.

Ryane Clowe would deflect a meaningless goal late in the game for this 5th of the season.

"They were the better team when it was all said and done," said Sharks head coach Todd McLellan. " They created more quality scoring chances than we did, they forced us to turn puck a little bit more, their special teams were a little sharper than ours were, when you add that all that up the win goes into their column."

Game Notes:

Thornton’s assist on Heatley’s goal was his 500th point in a Sharks uniform. T came on the 5th anniversary of his acquisition from the Boston Bruins back in 2005.



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Scoring
1 2 3 T
DET 2 2 1 5
SJ 1 1 1 3
1st period - 1, DET, Cleary 11 (Zetterberg, Filppula), 4:50, (pp). 2, DET, Datsyuk 8 (Rafalski, Zetterberg), 8:01. 3, SJ, Heatley 12 (Thornton, Pavelski), 9:35, (pp).
2nd period - 4, DET, Zetterberg 8 (Rafalski, Datsyuk), 2:58. 5, SJ, Ferriero 2 (McGinn, Joslin), 4:52. 6, DET, Eaves 4 (Cleary, Kronwall), 19:49.
3rd period - 7, DET, Zetterberg 9 (Datsyuk), 7:55. 8, SJ, Clowe 5 (Braun, Mitchell), 17:28.
Penalties
1st period - Mayers, SJ (high sticking), 4:36; Holmstrom, DET (interference), 8:19.
2nd period - Couture, SJ (tripping), 0:54; Holmstrom, DET (holding), 8:50.
3rd period - Nichol, SJ (slashing), 13:01; Nichol, SJ (roughing), 13:01.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
DET - Howard 28 25
SJ Niittymaki 29 24
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
DET 9 13 7 29
SJ 15 6 7 28
Power Play Conversion
DET 1 of 4
SJ 1 of 2
3 Stars of the Game
Henrik Zetterberg
Pavel Datsyuk
Ryane Clowe
Attendence
17,562
Officials
Referees: Peel, Sutherland. Linesmen: Cameron, Gibbs.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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