San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns (88) and Detroit Red Wings center Robby Fabbri (14) scramble for the puck at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit on Tue Jan 4, 2022 (AP New photo)
By Mary Walsh
The San Jose Sharks (17-16-1) fell 6-2 to the Red Wings (16-15-3) in Detroit on Tuesday. Pius Suter (2), Tyler Bertuzzi (2), Dylan Larkin, and Robby Fabbri scored for Detroit. Alex Nedeljkovic made 24 saves for the win. Jasper Weatherby and Alexander Barabanov scored for San Jose. James Reimer made 20 saves on 24 shots in the first two periods, and Adin Hill made 5 saves on 7 shots in the third.
The Sharks have given up six or more goals in three of their last four games. In two of those, they scored five or more goals, but the Sharks’ defensive game is struggling. After the game, Brent Burns talked about the power play and the game in general: “It’s just gotta be better. At the end of the day you’ve gotta figure it out, put the next guy in a good spot, you gotta start executing, doing things on the same page. Obviously it’s not good enough.”
Logan Couture and Lane Pederson on the COVID-19 list, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic out as a healthy scratch, the Sharks were short-handed even before they lost Jacob Middleton to injury in the first period. Sharks Head Coach Bob Boughner talked about the absence of key players and how it may be undermining the team’s confidence:
“You worry about team confidence. That’s what we need to get back here. You know, I think losing [Couture], and not having Mario [Ferraro], and having [Rudolfs Balcers] out for a while, we’re thin, we’re a little bit thin. Some teams can miss three or four players and they don’t miss a beat. And they’re better teams in the league, they’re elite teams. We’re not and that means we’ve got to come together and play a little smarter and a little harder.”
At 13:02 of the first, Tyler Bertuzzi threw the puck to the net from below the goal line. It went off of James Reimer’s stick and into the net. Assists went to Gustav Lindstrom and Dylan Larkin.
Late in the period, Red Wings forward Givani Smith received a five minute major and a game misconduct for boarding Sharks defenseman Jacob Middleton. Middleton left the ice and did not return to the game.
The Sharks started the second period with more than three minutes left on the power play. Instead of scoring, they gave up two short-handed goals. Prior to the game, the Red Wings had gone 100 games without a short-handed goal.
Pius Suter scored the first, after breaking away while Alexander Barabanov tried to chase him down from the other side of the ice.
Tyler Bertuzzi scored his second of the game less than 40 seconds later, also short-handed. This time, the Red Wings left the Sharks power play behind with a two-on-one. Assists went to Carter Rowney and Moritz Seider.
Jasper Weatherby got one back at 4:03. Weatherby deflected a Brent Burns shot while cutting through in front of the net. Assists went to Burns and Jeffrey Viel.
Pius Suter scored his second of the game at 9:32. Michael Rasmussen set him up with a back hand from the goal line and Suter’s quick shot beat Reimer on the glove side. Assists went to Rasmussen and Nick Leddy.
The Sharks put Adin Hill in net to start the third period.
Alexander Barabanov had a Tomas Hertl shot go off of his skate at 1:40 of the third, for his sixth goal of the season.
A couple of minutes later, Dylan Larkin skated around the Sharks defense and shot the puck past Adin Hill for his 16th goal of the season. Assists went to Lucas Raymond and Gustav Lindstrom.
Robby Fabbri scored his ninth of the season at 5:01. He picked off a Brent Burns pass and shot it right into the far side of the net.
Midway through the third, a scrum erupted in front of the Detroit net, ending with two more game misconducts, one to Jeffrey Viel and one to Tyler Bertuzzi. They also received roughing minors, creating two minutes of four-on-four.
The Sharks were out-shot by the Red Wings 31-26. The Sharks prevailed in the face-off circle, winning 52% of the draws. It was Burns’ 631st consecutive game.
The Sharks’ next game will be Thursday in Buffalo against the Sabres at 4:00 PM PT.