Ratto: Sharks can't capitalize on comeback

Ratto: Sharks can't capitalize on comeback
May 7, 2011, 1:43 am
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RayRattoCSNBayArea.com

DETROIT -- So the right team won Friday, at least in terms of who did more to deserve it. That was Detroit, 4-3. If that does not fit with your definition of Fridays Sharks-Red Wings game, then with all due respect, your definition is wrong.We can say we lost the game in the first 17, 18 minutes, defenseman Dan Boyle said after Darren Helm saved Detroit 87 seconds from overtime with an open-net game-winner after a prolonged flurry. We were a little sloppy defensively, they got too many chances. We showed character and heart and all that by coming back, but we still lost, and we have to go back.Indeed, San Jose inspired itself and its customer base by getting up from a self-induced coma, with goals from Logan Couture, Boyle and Dany Heatley, but the three it surrendered before that, and Helms glorified tap-in at 18:33 of the third forced this series back to Le Pavillon du HP Sunday.And made a prophet, and a near liar, out of Todd McLellan, who said after the Sharks rallied from 4-0 down to beat Los Angeles in the first series that the Sharks would get no more mulligans. They nearly did, in fact, but the end result was what it should have been.
RECAP: Red Wings win Game 4 late, stay alive vs. SharksI like the fact that we were resilient when we werent playing very well, so thats a positive well take from the game, he said, opening with the up before bringing the down. We found a way to claw back into it, but again, early in the game and even throughout the second period we didnt have very good legs tonight. It was hard to find six or seven guys who were really skating well, and Detroit did. They won a lot of loose pucks, they established body position over loose pucks, and they did a better job of it than we did. They deserve full marks for their win.They were the better team.Period. No complaining about a penalty discrepancy, or the bad luck that accompanies late-game scrambles, or even the odd goals Detroit got to establish their lead. Detroit was better, and that was that.They get a goal on a spinarama, Boyle said, describing Todd Bertuzzis opening score at 6:22 of the first, and one that a guy bats out of the air (Nicklas Lidstroms second, which he actually one-hopped into the net at 18:01), so theres some bad luck, but you have to live with those. Thats the game.For the most part, though, the Red Wings created their breaks by winning the battles to which McLellan referred. The best San Jose can say of this game is that it wasnt the 7-1 piano-wiring of a year ago, which frankly is a generous interpretation.The Wings have now improved their play in each game from a fairly low threshold in Game 1, and have found the gaps in the Sharks game.But the Sharks also found some inner reserve that prevented the 7-1 thrashing this might have been. Couture scored on a tip-in of a Ryane Clowe drive 15 seconds after the Lindstrom grounder, Boyle pinched and took a sweet pass from redoubtable Kyle Wellwood at 13:44 of the second to find an open net and make it 3-2, and Heatley took a pass from Clowe at 1:14 of the third to tie the game and turn a loud Joe Louis Arena crowd into a grumbly, fingers-up-to-the-man crowd.That, though, changed as the Wings put together a strong final five minutes, including the final flurry, which actually began with three minutes to play. The Wings gained the zone, and in order of appearance, they: Got a dangerous shot from Johan Franzen that went wide.
Got a similar one from Valteri Filppula that also missed the net.
Got slap shots from Dan Cleary and Niklas Kronwall which Antti Niemi parried.
Got a dangerous looking wrap-around from Bertuzzi that Niemi repelled and froze.
Lost a faceoff but regained possession quickly and got a slapshot from Brian Rafalski that led to a frantic clot of arms and legs to Niemis left.
Patrick Eaves got a swipe at the puck at one point, and eventually the puck dribbled right to Helm, who had nothing but time and will.
I saw the first few shots, then I lost the puck for awhile, couldnt see it, Niemi said. Then when I saw it again, it was on the other side (where Helm finished) and I couldnt get over.It was the last of the 40 shots Niemi saw, on a night when he allowed goals on three of the first 17 but was brilliant until helplessly stranded on the game-winner. He too, though, knew how the ship went down Friday night.We have to be hard from the start, Niemi lamented after a mediocre game became a great game. Thats the key.Indeed, it was the key Friday night. A proud team decided it was not yet a good day to die. They still have to decide that three more times, of course, and the Sharks have much to say in the interim. But for one night, the Red Wings showed why beating them is such a big deal.Because it comes at such a cost in effort and stress. Ray Ratto is a columnist with CSNBayArea.com.

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