SAN JOSE The Detroit Red Wings werent very pleased after their 2-1 loss on Tuesday in St. Louis. The Sharks didnt like their mental approach to Saturdays 3-0 shutout loss to Phoenix.
One of them still wont be content after tonight, when the rival clubs meet for the second time this season and first at HP Pavilion.
Neither of us played the game we wanted to in our last outing, said Todd McLellan. Somebodys going to fix it tonight, and somebody wont.
One thing the Sharks would like to do, especially at home, is score the first goal. In eight home games this season, San Jose has jumped out to a 1-0 lead just twice. Overall, the Sharks are 5-0 when they open the scoring.
Saturdays loss to Phoenix was a good example why it's a focus for the Sharks. After taking an early lead, the Coyotes were able to clog up the neutral zone and not take as many chances offensively, while playing in front of a strong goaltender that plays the puck well in Mike Smith.
Something we need to work on is our starts, said Logan Couture. We find ourselves behind too often, especially here at home. Its a tough rink to play in for other teams, so we have to start getting the first goal.
The stats, maybe more this year than any other year, bear fruit to scoring first and playing with a lead, said McLellan. We saw the other day how a team can quickly get a one or two goal lead, clamp down and play good defensively. The goaltending is superior, and its hard to come back in that situation.
The Sharks were able to score first against the Red Wings on October 28 on a Ryane Clowe power play goal, when they beat Detroit at Joe Louis Arena, 4-2.
Keep Wings' PP frustrated: The Red Wings have not won a road game since Oct. 15, although, to be fair, they have played just four games away from home in that span.
Still, a win at raucous HP Pavilion could be just what they need to put their early road struggles behind them.
As a player you circle these games in your mind. You feel the rivalry, especially with these guys playing them the last two years in the playoffs and us beating them, said Couture. Im sure in that dressing room they really want to beat us, and the feeling is mutual.
One big reason the Red Wings have only won two of six road games is the power play. When they arent at Joe Louis Arena, they have converted just two of 24 chances with a man advantage. Thats tied for 28th in the NHL.
Overall, the Red Wings' power play is just 14.3 percent, or 21st in the league.
It will come to life, I just hope that happens later on in the week and not tonight, said McLellan.
Conversely, the Sharks much-maligned penalty kill has been better its last two outings, killing off three chances apiece against Phoenix on Saturday and Minnesota last Thursday.
According to Michal Handzus, the penalty-killers are succeeding due to more play as a unit and not as many breakdowns, he said.
Like McLellan, Handzus isnt looking at the Red Wings lackluster power play stats.
They are very dangerous, it doesnt really matter what happened before, he said. They have great players and two good units. We have to worry about ourselves. The last two games weve been better, and we want to build on that.
Defensive changes: As mentioned in an earlier Sharks Talk post, Jason Demers will be inserted back into the lineup in place of Justin Braun. Demers hasnt played since Oct. 31 in Madison Square Garden against the Rangers.
RELATED: Demers nervous, but ready to return
For the Red Wings, they are still dealing with a broken cheekbone injury to Ian White, who did not make the trip. The recently recalled Brendan Smith, all of 22 years old, will play in his first NHL game and hes had plenty of time to watch San Jose as an observer.
I really enjoy watching the Sharks. They are such a great team, said Smith. Just knowing a little more of their tendencies and stuff is going to help me defensively and offensively.
Hitting the reset button: The Sharks had plenty of time to stew over their loss against Phoenix on Saturday, but it also gave them a welcome break in the schedule with four days off between games.
A veteran like Dan Boyle, who had a game to forget against the Coyotes with a -3 rating and turnover leading directly to a goal against, was glad to get some practice time and some rest.
For me, it was a reset button, said Boyle. We went through a pretty good streak and then had a pretty bad game against Phoenix. It was time to press the reset button here and start over.
Odds and ends: Joe Thorntons two goals led the way in the 4-2 win in Detroit on Oct. 28. The Red Wings had won four straight before losing to the Blues on Tuesday, in what was the first of a four-game road trip. The Sharks conclude a six-game homestand tonight, and are 3-1-1 through the first five. Patrick Marleau has five points in the last three games. Along with White, the Red wings will be without Todd Bertuzzi, who is on IR with a sinus infection that has caused dizziness.