“Hits and Misses” for Sharks at Red Wings Game 4 WCSF 5/6/11
Logan Couture – Couture scored his third goal of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, seventh of his career, at 18:16 of the first period to cut the Red Wings deficit to 3-1. The goal, which came 17 seconds after Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom scored a Power Play goal to give the Red Wings a 3-0 lead, came as the result of a turnover in the Red Wings zone by Red Wings forward Darren Helm, who gave the puck away to Sharks forward Ryane Clowe at the blue line. With the puck on his stick, Clowe skated further into the Red Wings zone before angling off to the high side-board near the top corner. With Helm pursuing him, Clowe fired the puck on net with a fade-away shot that Couture, who had positioned himself on the goal line near the side of the goalie crease, tipped with his stick, causing the puck to squeeze past Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard on the short side for the goal. Couture also had an assist for a two point night.
Dan Boyle – Boyle scored his second goal of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, ninth of his career, at 13:44 of the second period to cut the Red Wings deficit to 3-2. The goal came as the result of the Sharks winning a face-off inside the Red Wings zone, which led to Sharks forward Kyle Wellwood making a strong move on net that was stopped by Howard but Wellwood was able to corral the puck back on his stick on the end-board. From the end-board, Wellwood skated out to the face-off dot of the lower face-off circle and fired a cross zone pass to Boyle, who snuck in backdoor on the weak side, and with the puck on his stick inside the high face-off circle, Boyle fired the puck over the glove of Howard for the goal.
Dany Heatley – Heatley scored his third goal of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, 15th of his career, at 1:14 of the third period to tie the game at 3-3. With the puck deep inside the Red Wings zone, Couture corralled the puck at the high corner and fired a pass behind the Red Wings net to line-mate Clowe, who centered the puck out in front of the slot to Heatley, who fired a shot on net that beat Howard on the blocker side for the goal.
Antti Niemi – Niemi was the sole reason why the Sharks were able to battle back and tie the game at 3-3 early in the third period because had Niemi not been in net tonight for the Sharks, this game would have been a blowout just like last year’s 7-1 loss in Game 4 in Detroit. Niemi was outstanding in net, stopping 36-of-40 shots, and stood tall as he was bombarded with shots all night from the Red Wings.
Penalty Killers – The Sharks Penalty Killers had another solid outing, successfully killing off three of the Red Wings four Power Play opportunities, three of which came in the second period alone. Even though the Sharks Penalty Killers did surrender Lidstrom’s Power Play goal late in the first period, the goal came with only four seconds remaining on the Power Play opportunity.
Ryane Clowe – Clowe had a three point night with three assists and along with Couture, were the only Sharks players to have a multiple point night.
Douglas Murray – Murray had a game high three blocked shots and team high four hits.
Sharks Team – While it would have been nice to see the Sharks complete their first ever franchise sweep of a playoff series, the Sharks can hold their heads high on the flight back to San Jose tonight knowing they showed the entire hockey realm what they are made of as they took the Red Wings best shots in the first period and dug themselves out of a three goal deficit by scoring three times over the next 23 minutes of the game. Plus, how sweet would it be for the Sharks to close the series out on home ice on Mother’s Day? I think that would be the perfect Mother’s Day gift.
Sharks Team – The Sharks did the one thing head coach Todd McLellan said they could not and that was they sat back on their heels in the first period instead of pushing back. Had the Sharks not got off to such a slow start, there is no doubt that the Sharks would have won the game and completed their first ever series sweep in franchise history. If you don’t think the players are upset, think again as Boyle told the following to the San Jose Sharks twitter feed: “We wanted to finish it tonight. We won the first one here and I’m not happy with a split. I don’t think anyone in here is.”
Power Play – Even though the Sharks Power Play unit only got two chances with the man advantage, both of the opportunities came in the third period after the Sharks had tied the game at 3-3 and unfortunately for Sharks fans, the Sharks weren’t able to capitalize on those two golden chances.
Bertuzzi Goal – Versus broadcast analyst Jeremy Roenick pointed out during the first intermission report that Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi‘s goal should NOT have counted because Red Wings forward Danny Clearly was OFFSIDES by being inside the Sharks zone before Bertuzzi skated into the zone with the puck!
Helm GWG – Helm’s game winning goal all started with the face-off in the Sharks zone that the Sharks won but couldn’t clear the puck out as their clear attempt was kept in at the blue line by Red Wings defenseman Brian Rafalski, who fired a shot on net that was blocked in front. Red Wings forward Patrick Eaves corralled the rebound and with four Sharks players on the high side of the zone, Eaves passed the puck down to Helm, who had snuck in on the play on the backside, and Helm fired a shot on net that beat Niemi for the goal. HOWEVER, I would like to point out that it did appear that Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader was running interference on Niemi, which prevented Niemi from getting across his goalie crease in time to stop Helm’s shot.
Referees – Once again, the referees put their “seal of approval” on the game by being totally inconsistent with their calls throughout the game. For example, the referees missed the offsides on the Bertuzzi goal but made sure to call it later in the third period when the Sharks had a 3-on-1 opportunity that could have given the Sharks the lead and the best part was the fact that the Sharks were NOT offsides. Another example was when Sharks captain Joe Thornton not only got tripped inside is own zone by a Red Wings player along the high side-board but Thornton also got cross-checked in back by a Red Wings player while down on the ice on his knees and no call! Even better was that the first four penalties of the game went against the Sharks, whom didn’t get their first Power Play opportunity until 4:12 into the third period or at 44:12 of the game.
Versus Announcers – Were those the Versus announcers or the Red Wings regional announcers because I honestly couldn’t tell the difference with all the nauseating, bias commentary from the Versus crew for the Red Wings. I would expect the Red Wings regional announcers to be in favor of their team because that’s who they announce for but for Versus, a national channel, to have their commentators so one-sided was ridiculous and a huge slap in the face to all Sharks fans that tuned in to watch. Don’t believe me? The following comments were made by the Versus crew during the game….“Oh that’s an un-earned goal” was said after Couture’s goal; “Oh that’s textbook interference” was said after Sharks defenseman Ian White was called for an interference penalty in the first period; “Oh that might be holding the stick” was said when the replay showed Red Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson clear as crystal holding the stick of Sharks forward Jamal Mayers. Still don’t believe me? Then I suggest you go back and listen to the announcer after Bertuzzi scored the first goal of the game. My God! One would have thought the Red Wings had just won the Stanley Cup with as excited as the announcer got.