Pavelski leads Sharks past Red Wings in series opener
SAN JOSE – Joe Pavelski picked up where he left off in the first round by scoring two goals to lead the San Jose Sharks to a 4-3 victory Thursday night over the Detroit Red Wings in Game 1 of the second-round Western Conference series.
Pavelski scored in the first period to start a three-goal outburst in 1:19 with Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi. Pavelski added his seventh goal of the postseason on a two-man advantage in the opening minute of the third period to help the Sharks end a string of four straight home losses in series openers.
Dan Cleary, Johan Franzen and Brian Rafalski scored for the Red Wings, who opened this series less than 48 hours after winning Game 7 in the first round at Phoenix. There will be two days off before Game 2 on Sunday night in San Jose.
Dan Boyle added three assists, and Evgeni Nabokov made 20 saves for San Jose.
After breaking out to a 3-0 lead, the Sharks entered the third period ahead by only one goal. But with Johan Franzen and Valtteri Filppula in the penalty box to open the third, Pavelski made it 4-2 when he beat Jimmy Howard with a shot from the side of the net 50 seconds into the period.
Brian Rafalski got it back to a one-goal game a few minutes later when he converted off a blind pass from Pavel Datsyuk.
Howard turned away numerous good chances on a power play midway through the third. But the Red Wings were unable to get the equalizer on their own power play right after that and Nabokov stopped a late flurry in front of the net to preserve the lead in the closing seconds. Detroit finished 0 for 5 on the power play.
San Jose hadn’t taken a 1-0 series lead since winning in Detroit three years ago. But the Red Wings came back to win that second-round series in six games. That was just one of many recent playoff disappointments for the Sharks, who have the second best regular season record to Detroit over the past five years but haven’t made it past the second round.
Nothing would help the Sharks shed their label of playoff underachievers more than knocking off the two-time defending Western Conference champion Red Wings, who are viewed by many as the favorites in this series against the top-seeded Sharks despite finishing fifth in the conference.
The Sharks were without their leading goal scorer in the regular season as Patrick Marleau was scratched because of an illness. He is day to day.
But San Jose has been carried this postseason by Pavelski’s line with Setoguchi and Ryane Clowe, instead of the gold medal trio of Marleau, Heatley and Joe Thornton.
The Sharks got production from both lines in Game 1, quickly answering any questions about whether they would be rusty after having four days off since eliminating Colorado in six games in the first round.
They put together their fastest flurry of three goals ever in a playoff game midway through the first period, peppering Jimmy Howard with good scoring chances.
Pavelski started the spree when he beat Howard with a wrist shot from the slot on a power play, continuing his strong postseason after scoring five goals in the first round. The Sharks then got a goal from a player who hadn’t produced yet in the playoffs when Heatley knocked in a pass from Joe Thornton 56 seconds later. Before the fans had time to stop celebrating, Setoguchi picked up a loose puck in the slot and beat Howard 23 seconds after that to make it 3-0.
The three goals in 1:19 were the fastest ever for the Sharks, beating the 2:02 they needed in Game 3 against Calgary two years ago. But in a potentially bad omen, San Jose lost that game to the Flames 4-3.
The Red Wings began the comeback when Cleary was left alone in front of Nabokov and tapped in a pass from Jonathan Ericsson for his first point this postseason. Franzen added a goal in the second period to make it 3-2.
Cleary was helped off late in the second period when he collided with teammate Justin Abdelkader and then got kneed in the head by Sharks captain Rob Blake while falling to the ice. He returned in the third period.
NOTES: Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom played his first game as a 40-year-old. He scored two goals in game 7 against Phoenix on Tuesday and turned 40 Wednesday. … Heatley had no goals in 9 career regular season games against Detroit before converting in his first postseason meeting. … Sharks D Niclas Wallin missed his seventh straight playoff game with an undisclosed injury, while Jed Ortmeyer returned to the ice after missing the final three games of the first round.
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