The Sharks and Wings have had plenty of battles in the history of their two clubs, and their latest confrontation will end with one of them fighting for the Western Conference Championship. In a series that just about everyone has picked to go the full seven games, the Sharks drew first blood on Thursday night, outlasting the Wings to take Game 1, 4-3.
Joe Pavelski continued his torrid scoring pace, adding two more goals in this one, both of them on the powerplay. He got the first goal of the series midway through the first, centering himself in the slot and whipping a wicked shot through Howard to kick off a wild couple of minutes in San Jose. Dany Heatley finally got his first goal of the playoffs, tapping in a centering pass from Joe Thornton less than a minute after Pavelski scored, and Devin Setoguchi found a rebound just 23 seconds later to put the Sharks up 3-0 in the first period. >
Dan Cleary got the Wings on the board just a bit later, though, finding himself alone in front of the net and getting a great pass from Jonathan Ericsson that left Nabokov no chance to make the save. Johan Franzen scored the only goal of the 2nd, cutting across the middle of the San Jose zone and snapping one off under the bar to pull the Wings within one early in the 2nd.
Pavelski stretched the lead to 2 goals less than a minute into the 3rd with another powerplay goal that somehow slipped between Howard’s pads. It would end up being the game winner, as Brian Rafalski finished off a great offensive setup from Pavel Datsyuk, but the Wings were unable to beat Nabokov again in the 3rd.
Howard finished with 23 saves on 27 shots, while Nabokov made 20 saves of his own. The key for the Sharks was the fact that they scored on 2 of their 6 powerplays, while keeping the Wings off the board on all 5 of their opportunities with the man advantage.