SAN JOSE -- On Thursday night at SAP Center, the Red Wings played one of those proverbial perfect road games. They kept most of the Sharks’ shots to the outside, killed off all three of San Jose’s power plays, and relied on goaltender Petr Mrazek to make some timely and spectacular saves.
For the Sharks, it was just another in a long line of disappointments at home.
Justin Abdelkader’s goal with under seven minutes remaining was the difference in a 2-1 Detroit win at San Jose, which fell to 1-3 on a five-game homestand and is a wretched 5-12-0 at SAP Center this season.
The key moment came just before Abdelkader’s marker, when Joel Ward, who already had one goal on the night, found himself alone with the puck in front of the net. He deked to his forehand, quickly shifted to his backhand, and had all kinds of net staring at him to flip in the go-ahead score.
Instead, Mrazek miraculously got the paddle of his stick on the floating disc and the Red Wings raced the other way. A soft Pavel Datsyuk backhand deflected perfectly off of Martin Jones to Abdelkader, who drove in a slapper at 13:08 in the high slot to give the Sharks their sixth loss in the last seven at home.
“That’s sports. That’s the way it goes sometimes,” said a dejected Ward. “You’ve got a good chance at one end and next thing you know they came down and scored in the other.”
Less than a minute before Ward’s chance, Joonas Donskoi rang a shot off the post from just outside the blue paint. He, too, had plenty of net to shoot at.
Logan Couture said: “You hate to say that’s the way it’s going right now, but that’s the way it’s going. They make a big save and the puck pops out to one of their guys and he’s walking into a slap shot. It’s frustrating.”
If there was an encouraging aspect to the game for San Jose, it’s that the club was much better than in Saturday’s brutal 4-1 loss to the Jets. The Sharks outshot the Red Wings for the game, 36-25, and got an strong performance in net from Jones, who has been wobbly of late.
The Sharks had four complete days to stew over what was probably their worst effort of the season, and although that didn’t mean two points against Detroit, coach Pete DeBoer figures the results will be more positive if his team can replicate that type of energy.
“Frustrating we didn’t get points, but I liked our effort, I liked our response after last game,” DeBoer said. “Two great chances to go ahead 2-1 just before they scored. That’s the way things are going right now. We’ve got to be resilient and know that if we play that way, that over the long-term we’ll be alright.”
Joe Pavelski said: “It was there for us, we just didn’t finish. That’s the game right now, that’s the way it’s going for us. Guys played hard. We’ve got to find ways to win though, that’s the bottom line.”
After the final horn, Joe Thornton sparked a scrum in the corner when went after the Red Wings’ Luke Glendening. The big centerman was wailing away on the fourth line forward before Niklas Kronwall gave Thornton a bear hug from behind. Other players on both sides joined in the fracas, too.
Thornton earned a double minor for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct.
“A little frustration, absolutely,” DeBoer said. “You expect that. Guys are pissed off. I think they deserved better tonight and we didn’t get it. That’s just the rut we’re in right now. We’ve got to keep pushing until we get out of it.”
Couture said: “I’m sure we’ll look at the video and see some things we did well, but we still lost the game. This is a results-driven business, and it’s all about winning hockey games. Right now we’re not doing that at home.”