Three Questions: Wings-Sharks
DRW.com's Michael Caples analyzes the Wings' 31st game
The clash between the top two Western Conference teams was won and lost by a quick snap with seven minutes left in the first period. Detroit forward Johan Franzen brought the puck over the San Jose blue line, and with a quick snap (that first appeared to be a dump-in) beat goalie Evgeni Nabokov glove side. It was only the Wings’ third shot of the game, and the strike seemed to really get into Nabokov’s head. The Red Wings jumped on the shaken goaltender, with Pavel Datsyuk scoring on the very next shot with a quick wrister 1:27 later. From that point, Nabokov struggled, and the Red Wings never let up their assault. The quick two markers on back-to-back shots was the start the Wings needed as they coasted to a 6-0 victory. Coach Mike Babcock and his squad sent a message to the rest of the NHL with the dominating performance over the team holding the league’s best record, not to mention finding a little revenge after the first meeting between the two clubs.
Who was the Wings’ MVP?
Goalie Ty Conklin is the main reason for the big win in Hockeytown, and not only because of his shutout performance. He kept the Wings in the game during some first-period struggles. With 7:34 remaining in the opening period, the shots were 7-2 in favor of San Jose. Conklin never wavered, stopping nine shots in the first to keep everything out of his net until Franzen could crack the scoreless tie.
And once the Wings had a comfortable lead, Conklin slammed the door, stopping 15 shots throughout the second and third to guide the Wings. He also played the lead in the shorthanded situations as usual, helping the Wings kill off two penalties. Needless to say, Conklin looked impressive en route to his second shutout of the season.
Who had the most impressive night up front?
Datsyuk had quite the night. His first goal of the night, as previously mentioned, found its way to the net through a crowd, but without his ability to protect the puck he never would have got the shot off. Pav protected the puck with his body, pulling it back and wide, away from the defense chasing, and snapped it before Nabokov saw it coming. Datsyuk used the defense to his advantage for his second goal as well, making a quick toe drag and firing a shot through the defenseman, utilizing him as a screen to score his 10th goal of the season.
But Datsyuk didn’t only score tonight; his passing skills were on full display again. He found his left wing, Marian Hossa, wide-open in the slot with a no-look backhand dish that Hossa wired past Nabokov. Datsyuk also picked up a secondary assist on Brad Stuart’s marker in the third. Pavel's most impressive pass didn’t find its way to the scoresheet. Early in the first period, he picked up the puck at the side of the San Jose goal, made a 360-degree spin while firing a rocket cross-crease to Hossa, a pass that was actually too hot to handle for the Wings’ leading scorer.