By Ivan Makarov
San Jose Sharks have been very successful against Detroit Red Wings ever since Todd McLellan took over the head coaching responsibilities at the start of the 2008/2009 NHL season, including defeating them twice in Stanley Cup playoffs. The streak of victories continued on Thursday back at SAP Center when Detroit made their only stop of the season in San Jose. Sharks got off to an early lead, and never let the game get away from them, finishing the game with a 4-1 victory.
“We have success against certain teams, and against other teams, like LA, we have stats where we haven’t won in a while,” said Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle. “We’ve been successful against Detroit for 5-6 years now. I can’t explain it. It’s easy to get up to play against them, and we’ve been playing well.”
Joe Pavelski scored twice for the Sharks, and Dan Boyle and Andrew Desjardins added to the score for the home team, while Tomas Tatar got the only goal for the visitors. Antti Niemi earned his 23rd victory of the season while making 24 saves on 25 shots.
Sharks started like they usually do at the SAP Center – scoring a goal in the first five minute of the game. Joe Pavelski continued his hot streak of goals, scoring his 20th at 4:59 mark in the first period, after he got a pass from his center Joe Thornton, who had the puck on the wing, and paused to wait for Little Joe to open up.
Pavelski went on to score again later in the game, when Sharks were ahead by a goal, and made it 3-1 on a Sharks power play showing great skill as the puck bounced to him when he was parked just to the right of Howard. With Detroit goaltender laying on the ice after making a safe, Sharks forward stopped the puck and sent it top shelf to score his 21st goal of the season, taking the lead in goals on the team from Patrick Marleau.
Things are working out well for Pavelski, who now has 12 goals in his last 15 games, in addition to four assists. What’s working well for him?
“I’ve been around the net a little bit, got some big goals, got lucky at times, and playing with some good players,” said Pavelski after the game. “I am playing with some good players. We are getting multiple looks throughout the night. Between Burnzie and me, we are getting a lot to the net and Jumbo is making all the passes. The power play is starting to click a little bit, so it all adds up.”
“He’s been really good,” said Todd McLellan about Pavelski’s recent performance. “We need to keep him this way. When team needs him, he seems to elevate his game. That’s a sign of a really good player. Playing with the two players that he does, he just needs to get himself into he right spot and find pucks. He took advantage of it again.”
Detroit did score to tie the game when Sharks were only up by one as the Slovak Tomas Tatar capitalized on defensive miscues inside the Sharks zone when Marc-Eduard Vlasic got caught without a stick in front of the net. Detroit’s left wing read the situation well, dropped back as he skated from behind the Sharks net he buried the shot top shelf.
Sharks put the game out of Detroit’s reach in the second period by scoring three goals on the 14 shots, which sealed the deal for them. Third period saw the Sharks turn on their defensive attention, but it was not the most exciting of periods, with shots being 5-3 in favor of the Sharks. The game got chippy at the end, and referrees assessed 12 penalties in the last 5 minutes of the game.
Sharks improved their record to 28-11-6 and are still second in the Pacific division. They are next facing Boston Bruins at home on Saturday.