Red Wings crush Sharks with late comeback

Home cooking has been rotten for San Jose, and it continued Thursday as the Sharks lost 3-2 to the Detroit Red Wings for their seventh-straight loss on home ice.

The Sharks came into the game with losses in eight of their last 11 games but still sat just two points back of a playoff spot in the West. A win would have moved San Jose into a three-way tie for the third spot in the Pacific division with Los Angeles and Calgary.

Logan Couture said:

“They skated better than we did. … We need to start finding ways to win games, right now we are finding ways to lose.”

It’s been dismal at home for the Sharks as they have yet to record a win on home ice in the month of February.

Matt Irwin, who scored the Sharks lone goal in the first period, said:

“It’s devastating, this time of year its unacceptable. … This is where we got to put points in the bank and set ourselves up for the stretch run. To not get these points tonight is extremely frustrating.”

It looked like the Sharks had a win wrapped up late in the third, which included killing off a huge four minutes after Matt Nieto got whistled for a double minor for high sticking.

Photos by Thomas Mendoza/SFBay

But it wasn’t to be, as Detroit tied the game at 2-2 with six minutes left on a deflection from Pavel Datsyuk, then sealed the Sharks coffin with a goal by Luke Glendening with just over a minute to go.

Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan said:

‘The third period, the first six of the first 10 minutes you’re on the penalty kill, that doesn’t help, so you’re really on your heels. … The other team’s got some momentum, you’re on your heels and you’ve expended a lot of energy using seven guys for four minutes.”

San Jose had four days off their Levi’s Stadium loss to the Los Angeles Kings. The extra days of rest showed early as the Sharks outshot the Red Wings 14–4 in the opening period. The only goal came off the stick of Irwin, who scored seven minutes into the game on assists from Joe Thornton and Scott Hannan.

With his goal, Irwin has three points in his last five games and 11 total points on the year.

Thornton’s assist gave him 40 on the year, which ties him for fifth in the NHL. He has reached that benchmark in nine of the 10 years he has played in San Jose, coming up short with 33 in the strike-shortened 2012-13 season.

Though only one shot found the net in the first, San Jose kept the pressure on Detroit, forcing them into two penalties.

The Red Wings ratcheted up their intensity after getting dominated in the first and San Jose never found a way to recover as they were outshot 31 – 8 over the last two periods.

McLellan said:

“They took it up a notch and we fell back into a real defensive mode trying to protect and you can’t do that. … You can’t spend that much time in your zone and not make mistakes, it’s impossible.”

Patrick Marleau pitched in with a goal of his own on a power play in the second, his 13th of the year, which looked to be the difference until late in the third. Marleau said:

“These are games we need, try and find a way to close it out. … We ran into some penalty trouble and killed those off but they got some momentum.”

Marleau’s goal came just three minutes after the Red Wings had tied the game at 1-1 with a power play goal of their own by Teemu Pulkkinen. Detroit was able to capitalize after Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic broke his stick during his penalty kill shift.

Defense and goaltending have been a problem for San Jose recently, as they have allowed four or more goals in six of their 11 games this month.

McLellan said his team’s belief system is not as high as it needs to be:

“You could see once we got the lead we were more prepared to, rather than assert ourselves and push Detroit back, we were prepared just to defend and that’s not the way we are going to win.”

He added:

“Any that we don’t win is painful. … this one’s painful because we were close … But you lose this one, you lose 5-1 in Nashville, they’re all painful when you need wins.”

The Sharks host Ottawa Saturday and Eastern Conference-leading Montreal on Monday before a vital home and home against the Vancouver Canucks, now just five points ahead of the Sharks in the standings.

Notes

The NHL’s trade deadline is four days from now, and San Jose is expected to try and rebuild on the fly while also being able to make the playoffs. …The Sharks came in only one for their last 11 on power plays their last four games. They finished 1-3 tonight… Andrew Desjardins, John Scott and Mirco Mueller were scratched from the game; Desjardins has been mentioned in trade rumors, as he is an unrestricted free agent after the season.