Three Questions: Wings-Sharks
DRW.com's Michael Caples analyzes the Wings' 61st game
In big games, you look for your stars to have big performances. And the Wings’ leaders came through in the big win. In the first period, it was Marian Hossa, recording his 34th goal of the season on the power play. Hossa managed to pull the puck out of a crowd high along the boards in the San Jose zone, and started to walk towards the opposing goal. With no passing lanes open, Hossa fired a quick wrist shot that rolled through the legs of goaltender Evgeni Nabokov to give the Wings the early lead.
Ville Leino made his case for goal of the night as well, when he swatted in a rebound out of mid-air for his fifth career goal and second goal of the game for the Wings. However, it was Henrik Zetterberg’s shorthanded goal later in the period that earned the spotlight. Zetterberg stole the puck from defenseman Christian Ehroff at the Detroit blue line, and battled with Ehroff all the way to the front of the San Jose goal. There, Zetterberg slammed on the brakes and spun around to fire the puck past an unsuspecting Nabokov for his 23rd of the season.
Zetterberg put the game away in the third, when he scored the last goal of the contest from behind the San Jose goal. He took a pass from Brian Rafalski, looked around, and skated behind the goal before reaching his stick around to catch Nabokov as he slid between posts. Recording the second assist on the play was Pavel Datsyuk, which marked his 500th career point.
How did Ty Conklin do in the big game?
Conklin once again got the job done for the Wings at home, extending his winning streak at Joe Louis Arena to 12 games. The Wings’ netminder stopped 34 shots, but none of them were better then his big stop on Jonathan Cheechoo in the second period. With the Sharks fighting to stage a comeback, Cheechoo found a rebound right in front of Conklin, and tried to fire it over the Wings’ goalie. Conklin slid across the crease and flung his arms up, knocking away Cheechoo’s shot and keeping the two-goal lead for the Wings. His overall record is now 22-7-1 on the season.
Were there any fireworks due to Claude Lemieux’s return?
It’s no secret that the Hockeytown faithful aren’t big fans of Claude Lemieux. So when he came out of retirement to join the Sharks, all the talk in Detroit was his return to the Joe tonight. Lemieux, known for his violent check against Chris Draper to start the famous rivalry with the Avalanche, was booed every time he touched the ice, but that wasn’t much. He played for 5:38, finished minus-one, and even squared off against Draper for a face-off, but he didn’t get involved in any altercations.
However, that doesn’t mean that the rest of the two squads were kind towards one another. The game featured 17 penalties, and they started two minutes in when Dan Cleary introduced himself to the Sharks’ Joe Thornton in the San Jose corner, and Thornton had to be helped off the ice. There were 49 hits registered throughout the contest, and even more face-washes and pushes during stoppages. As emotions boiled high at the end of the game, Pavel Datsyuk knocked over defenseman Dan Boyle in the corner, and Boyle snapped Datsyuk’s stick in half to send the Wings’ to a two-man power play, where Zetterberg scored.