SAN JOSE When youre a team like the Sharks, and you've made it a habit recently of beating the mighty Detroit Red Wings in the regular season and playoffs, you probably need to find an unusual way to win one of those games every once in awhile.A four-point night from Marc-Edouard Vlasic and a pair of goals generated from the fourth line? That certainly qualifies as unconventional, as the Sharks beat the Red Wings for the fifth straight time in the regular season.
The Sharks scored five unanswered goals to cruise to a victory over the Red Wings their fifth straight regular season win over Detroit in a 5-2 victory at HP Pavilion on Thursday night. San Jose concluded its homestand with nine of a possible 12 points (4-1-1).Antti Niemi made a season-high 40 saves in earning his seventh win (7-2-1).
Its a good team. We want to get up for a good team, said Vlasic, who finished with a goal and three assists and whose club has eliminated Detroit from the postseason the last two years. We have elite players, and I think guys like to play against Detroit.The Sharks fourth line, which hadnt found the scoreboard since Andrew Desjardins two goals on opening night, managed to score twice and create havoc on the forecheck for the duration.Desjardins, Andrew Murray and Brad Winchester were on the ice for Vlasics goal in the second period while Winchesters first goal as a Shark midway through the third period put the game away, making it 5-1.They were very good defensively, through the neutral zone, and probably were our best forechecking line, said Todd McLellan. They created a number of opportunities in the offensive zone, and buried themselves in and around the blue paint and scored some goals. It was really nice to see for that group of three that has worked pretty hard lately.Winchester admitted that it was nice to see some results on the scoreboard. Desjardins and Murray each finished the night with an assist, while Winchester had a helper to go with his goal.There are a lot of ways to contribute in terms of the offensive side of things. It was nice to chip in as far as that goes, he said. Well continue to build on it.It took Vlasic less than 40 minutes to double his scoring output through the first 15 games. He factored in the first four Sharks goals as San Jose led 4-1 at the second intermission.With the game tied at 1-1 entering the second, San Jose took its first lead midway through regulation. Joe Thornton and Vlasic broke up a would-be one-timer by Henrik Zetterberg, leading to a rush the other way. Logan Couture faked a shot before sending a perfect cross-ice pass back to Thornton, who fired it past Jimmy Howard.Just backcheck hard. Thats what we try to do, said Thornton. Pickles and Logan made some nice plays and I pretty much just had an open net.Less than three minutes later, it was Vlasic who tallied his second goal of the season. A strong shift by the fourth line resulted in Vlasic controlling the puck behind the net and then wrapping it around at 12:48 when Howard could not recover.Vlasic mentioned that it was probably his first wraparound goal since junior.San Jose made it a three-goal cushion with 1:42 left in the second. After Jamie McGinns wrist shot snuck through Howard, Vlasic sped to the loose puck behind the net and threw it towards the slot. There, it met the stick of an open Torrey Mitchell, who lifted it over Howard for his second of the year.The Sharks were fortunate to be tied with Detroit after the first period after the Red Wings outshot San Jose 17-6, and dominated territorially. Niklas Kronwalls power play goal at 17:23 opened the scoring, when his shot deflected in off of Dan Boyle.San Jose got a gift in tying the game on a shorthanded goal with just 11.2 seconds left in the first. Vlasic threw the puck down the ice after a defensive zone faceoff win, and Howard went behind the net to retrieve it. Kronwall, thinking Howard would play it, peeled off while the puck stopped just outside the trapezoid. Thornton picked it up and had all day to find Joe Pavelski in the slot for his 10th of the season.We didnt play well up to that point, and that probably changed the whole outlook of the game, said Thornton of the Sharks second shorthanded goal of the year. We got some momentum off of that, had a great second period and the game was over.McLellan agreed that Pavelskis goal helped to give the Sharks momentum for a second period that saw them score three more.We probably turned it around on the shorthanded goal, he said. That worked in our favor.In what may have been his best game of the season, Niemi made some key stops, none more important than a sequence early in the second period. With the game tied at 1-1 and Detroit on the power play, Niemi made two saves on Danny Cleary to give the Sharks an opportunity to take the lead later in the frame.Our goaltender earned his paycheck, said McLellan.Even so, it was Vlasics night in the spotlight.Four points for Marc-Edouard is a real nice thing, said McLellan. It doesnt happen often, but he jumped into the play and made some great passes. Heck of a night from him.Odds and ends: The Red Wings came into the game with just two power play goals on the road, but equaled that going 2-for-3 with the man advantage. Four of the five Sharks goals were even strength. Howard was pulled for Ty Conklin at the start of the third period. Jason Demers returned to the Sharks lineup in favor of Justin Braun. Demers took two minor penalties in the first period, and finished with an even rating in 18:48 of ice time. The Sharks won 60 percent of the faceoffs. San Jose has scored the first goal of the game five times this year, and just twice at home. Overall, the team is 5-5-1 when falling behind, 1-0.