By Christy Hammond
Former Wings assistant coach Todd McLellan received his Stanley Cup ring and greeted some old friends before the game and then went on to lose 6-0 to his old team in a battle of the two top teams in the Western Conference. The Detroit Red Wings (21-6-4) had an all-around dominating performance against the San Jose Sharks (25-4-3).
While the Wings did get off to a rocky start initially as the Sharks outshot Detroit 7-2 by the 12:26 mark in the first period, goaltender Ty Conklin made some timely saves giving some time for Detroit to get back into the game.
With less than six minutes left in the first, the Wings grabbed the lead and never looked back. Forward Johan Franzen fired off a wrist shot that went into the net above Evgeni Nabokov’s glove much to the surprise of both Franzen and Nabokov. During the first period intermission, Franzen told FS Detroit that he thought the shot had gotten off kind of low on his blade so he was expecting to get a rebound and the chance to play the puck down low, but was quite surprised when it actually went in.
Just 1:47 later, Pavel Datsyuk scored his first of two goals Thursday night when he, too, took a wrist shot from the same high slot as Franzen. The quick succession of goals quickly changed the game’s momentum in Detroit’s favor as Nabokov appeared a bit shaken. Datsyuk would later work his magic almost halfway through the second when he sent Marian Hossa a no-look backhander. Hossa one-timed the pass sending a rocket at Nabokov for his 17th goal of the season.
It took almost 18 minutes of play before the Wings would score again, but Valtteri Filppula made it count when he capitalized on a cross-crease pass from Dan Cleary, who was celebrating his 30th birthday. Just over five minutes later, Datsyuk dazzled the crowd at the Joe once again when he made a slick toe-drag move before firing the shot. Datsyuk had gone 11 games without a goal and certainly made up for it in tonight’s important game.
Brad Stuart scored from a shot at the point after getting a pass from defensive partner Niklas Kronwall to get his first goal of the season with 3:31 left in the contest. Datsyuk picked up the secondary assist on Stuart’s goal. By the end of the game at least a quarter of the crowd had already left to get home before the snowstorm hit, but those that remained had a standing ovation for the team who impressed all of those in attendance with their dominating play over the top-ranked San Jose Sharks.
While Datsyuk was clearly the offensive star of the game, Conklin made 24 saves en route to his second (and Detroit’s second) shutout of the season. After Chris Osgood suffered a groin injury resorting him to backup on the bench, it was encouraing to see some great goaltending from Conklin against the Sharks.
The Red Wings host the LA Kings this Saturday at 7:30pm so be sure to come out and see former Wing Kyle Quincey and University of Michigan alum Jack Johnson (as well as your Detroit Red Wings)!
The first 5,000 kids at Saturday’s game against the LA Kings will receive a free Niklas Kronwall Growth Poster, Courtesy of Meijer.