4/30 WCSF Game 3: SHARKS 2, detroit 1
Man, there's nothing I hate more than boring playoff games. Which makes it a good thing that last night's game wasn't anywhere close to boring. The Sharks returned home from the Joe with a split, ready to defend their home ice. There can only be one winner of last night's game, but yet if you could, you would award each team a split of the contest, as the game was a pretty even effort, with the Wings winning the first 30, and the Sharks owning the latter 30. Just like Game 2, the team that jumped to the lead in the 1st wasn't the team that ended up winning the game, much to the dismay of statisticians (who keep their crushing weight of the world stats like the team who scores first wins x% of the time) everywhere.
With almost two weeks off in between games played at 525 W. Santa Clara, one might think the Sharks forgot how to do it at home, and, at least early, they were right. Just as the Sharks came out with a big jump in Game 1 and 2, the Wings were the energized ones at the start of Game 3. The climax of their energy came just more than midway through the 1st, when Nicklas Lidstrom found the top corner on Evgeni Nabokov, giving the Wings a 1-0 lead on the powerplay. Fortunately for the Sharks, that one goal was all the blood the Wings would draw on this night, but let's not get ahead of ourselves yet.
The 2nd began with the Wings still on top, and still controlling the play, but not for long. A Robert Lang penalty almost 6 minutes into the period began to shift the momentum towards the Teal, despite the Sharks not scoring on the man advantage. With the Sharks buzzing, a Matt Carle shot bounced off the leg pad of Dominik Hasek, and right to the stick of Ryane Clowe , who flicked a backhand past the outstretched glove of Hasek and into the net (Carle, Joe Thornton).
Despite beginning the 3rd tied, Clowe's goal clearly had a double effect, deflating the Wings, and pumping up the Sharks. The Wings played a very defensive game after Lidstrom's goal, trapping at times, but after Clowe tied the contest, their trap broke, as well as what seemed to be their spirits. The Sharks came out in the 3rd dominating the way they did against Nashville, putting the puck in deep, grinding out the pucks in the corners, and just doing whatever they could to tire out the Wings, and eventually, they capitalized. A mistake by a grizzled playoff veteran in Kris Draper (a hold on Joe Thornton) led to a holding penalty on it. (It should be noted at this time that the pregame contest that gives away $1,000 to a lucky contestant should a specific event happen in the game, had, on this night picked out for the Sharks to give away $1,000 for a Sharks powerplay goal in the 3rd period.) Just as the first Sharks goal was scored, Kyle McLaren took a shot that bounced off the pad of Hasek, right to Jonathan Cheechoo , who deked Hasek out of his skin (in defense of Hasek, anyone would have been deked out there), and proceeded to slip the puck in the net AS SLOWLY AS HE POSSIBLY COULD, turning on 17,496 human amplifiers and thusly blowing the roof off of the arena (powerplay) (McLaren, Clowe). The Sharks proceeded to handle the rest of the period, and netting the 1 game advantage in the series, going up 2 games to 1. Nabokov was solid in nets again (NA-BBY, NA-BBY), making 29 saves in the victory effort.
It was nice to win Game 3, but the job isn't done yet, Game 4 comes Wednesday night (7:00 pm). As important as Game 3 was (73% of Game 3 winners playing in a 1-1 series end up winning the series), Game 4 is even moreso. A Sharks win will send the series back to Hockeytown with the threat of ending hockey there for the next few months, while a Wings win will breathe even more life into this series, with it becoming a best of 3 contest, that would see two of the three at the Joe. Both teams will see forwards return, as Tomas Holmstrom will be back for the Wings (#96 in white) and the Sharks will see Mr. Rock Star, Mark Smith, make his return (#16 in teal). The Wings came out with a big jump in the 1st last game, and it didn't work too well. Maybe tonight they let the Sharks jump to a 3-0 lead, and proceed to let the Teal dominate (a boy can dream, can't he?). Game 4 should be another good one, with someone's good guys coming out on top.
GO SHARKS (Let it be our good guys, por favor)