Datsyuk strikes late, Wings even series
DETROIT -- The Red Wings have new life.
Pavel Datsyuk's goal with 1:24 remaining gave them a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday, tying the NHL Western Conference semifinal series 1-1.
San Jose goalie Evgeni Nabokov was down in his crease after stopping a Mikael Samuelsson shot when Datsyuk got the rebound and, with the puck on his backhand, smoothly slipped it into the gaping net and raised his arms in celebration.
Game 3 is Monday at 10 p.m. ET.
A shot by Kyle McLaren opened the scoring 36 seconds after the opening faceoff, which was briefly delayed while octopus slime was scraped off the ice. McLaren took a soft blue-line shot that touched Cheechoo's stick and changed direction only slightly but enough to handcuff goaltender Dominik Hasek.
Thornton made it 2-0 at 4:17 thanks to a Hasek blunder. The 42-year-old Czech went behind his net to get the puck, hesitated, and lost control on his clearing motion. The puck slid to San Jose's Milan Michalek in the corner. A quick relay out front and the puck was in the vacated net for Thornton's first goal and ninth post-season point.
It took Detroit 13 minutes to get a shot on Nabokov. On its third shot, an attempted pass out of a corner by Zetterberg, the puck struck McLaren in front of the net and caromed between Nabokov's right leg and the post at 17:30 for Detroit's first goal of the series.
The goal spurred the Red Wings. After being outshot 9-3 in the first period, they held San Jose without a shot on Hasek for the first 13 minutes of the second and had a 9-4 advantage in the period. But it was still 2-1 after 40 minutes.
Overall, this had to rate as one of the poorest games of the post-season in any series. San Jose was doing the same thing it did in its 2-0 Game 1 victory, shifting into neutral after getting a lead, while Detroit again seemed incapable of mounting any concerted offence.
The Red Wings would have to find a higher gear in the third period or risk heading west down two games.
Cleary gave them some high-test gas at 1:23. Christian Ehrhoff's giveaway in his own end allowed Kirk Maltby to gain possession of the puck while the Wings' Kris Draper served a holding penalty. He fed Cleary in the middle of the zone and Cleary slapped a shot that sent the puck off a kneeling Nabokov's left shoulder and on into the net for a short-handed goal that tie it 2-2.
The goal brought three octopi flying onto the ice.
Then Datsyuk won it.
The Red Wings got lucky. Maybe coach Mike Babcock's tie was a charm. He had sent a message earlier in the week to McGill University in Montreal, where he played hockey during the 1980s, asking that he be sent a school tie to wear behind the bench Saturday.
The Red Wings outshot the Sharks 10-6 in the third period and 22-19 overall.
The Sharks went 0-for-6 and Detroit was 0-for-3 on power plays.
GAME NOTES: The average size of San Jose players is six foot two and 214 pounds, while the Red Wings average six feet and 198. . . . San Jose reinserted Mark Bell and deleted Joe Pavelski. Bell had missed the previous four games with a groin injury. He skated on a line with Patrick Marleau and Bill Guerin . . . Detroit remained without F Tomas Holmstrom (left eye) and D Brett Lebda (left ankle) . . . Detroit D Chris Chelios appeared in his 236th playoff game, tying Mark Messier for second place on the all-time list. Only Patrick Roy (247) played more . . . Of the 24 players on the Sharks roster, 16 were original Sharks draft selections by director of scouting Tim Burke and his staff . . . Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom turned 37 Saturday.