Considerations were in the works to rename the Bay Area's hockey team the Ilitches (as in Wings owner Mike) because they absolutely own the NHL's most successful franchise over the past 15 years; San Jose had five straight regular season wins and have ended the Wings' season in the second round of the playoffs two years in a row.
But the Sharks were struggling on a road trip (1-2-1) and would complete their third game in less than 68 hours. Even before the trip, they were 5-5-1 despite six of the games being played at home and seven being against teams that at the time were not in the playoff picture.
Cold teams do not often beat hot teams.
The Sharks had another typical slow start, allowing Henrik Zetterberg to score on a partially-screened backhand from the slot just 6:30 into the game. They managed just six shots in the entire period.
The second period is typically San Jose's strongest, and they outshot Detroit, 19-8. Unfortunately, they allowed the next goal by Drew Miller and only answered once—a flukish power play goal that bounced from stick to stick at crossbar level.
They obviously had no gas left in the tank in the third period, outshot 12-8 despite their desperate situation. Detroit's Darren Helm scored about seven minutes in, and the Sharks could manage just one goal by Patrick Marleau (banging in a loose puck) in the final five minutes.
The positive they can take from this is that the loss was not one for lack of effort or focus on fundamentals. The Sharks attempted 17 more shots and put five more on net. They were plus-two in giveaway/takeaway differential.
But the Sharks lost five more faceoff battles while having fewer hits and blocked shots (even compared to attempts and shots on goal) than a team not known for either. Had it not been for more efficient special teams (killing all three penalties while going 1-for-4 on the power play), this game may have been more lopsided.
The one solace the Sharks can take is that much of their Pacific Division competition is struggling just as much...that, plus there is only one week left of this trip.
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