The San Jose Sharks remain attached at the hip with the Vancouver Canucks when it comes to the win-loss trend, as they rallied back after three straight losses to beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 in game seven to win the series and advance to the Western Conference Finals. Patrick Marleau, after being criticized by Jeremy Roenick for being "gutless," got the game-winning goal in the third period. Devin Setoguchi drove the net and put the puck on it, Jimmy Howard made the initial save, but it went out his left side, where Marleau was waiting aggressively, and tapped it in, giving the Sharks the 3-1 lead that they wouldn't relinquish.
Setoguchi was the guy to get things started in the first period on the power play, when Joe Thornton (who had himself a very, very solid game) took the puck behind the net and passed across the front of it to Setoguchi, who buried it with a beautiful slapshot and simply beat Howard. Logan Couture also scored in the opening frame, unassisted as he took the puck away from Henrik Zetterberg right in front of the net and buried it. Dan Boyle had two secondary assists on the night.
In the first ten minutes of play, the game was very evenly matched, but it started tipping in the Sharks' favor in the second half of the period, out-shooting the Red Wings 17-11 in the frame and jumping to that 2-0 lead. San Jose was put on high alert in the second period though, a period in which the Red Wings outshot them 17-6 and had them on their heels for the majority of the frame. Zetterberg scored on a beautiful backhand that Antti Niemi had no chance to stop, to put the Red Wings on the board.
Period three was also pretty evenly matched, though the Sharks played on their heels for the majority of the final ten minutes. Pavel Datsyuk , assisted by Jonathan Ericsson, took the puck around multiple defenders before beating Niemi on a shot at the far post that came just short of deflecting out.
The biggest thing to note was just how well the Sharks defended with their backs against the wall. The Red Wings were trying harder than they have this series to scramble and get the puck in the net, keeping the offensive onslaught on for extended periods of time, but the Sharks got multiple clears and looked really good doing so. It is scary hockey to watch when you're a Sharks fan, but they couldn't have played that style any better tonight than they did.
Todd Bertuzzi and Dan Cleary left the game with injuries, while Johan Franzen was also out. Ryane Clowe returned for San Jose after missing game six, and he played pretty well, you can attribute strong play to him at this point. Antti Niemi stopped 38-of-40 shots for a .950% while Jimmy Howard stopped 27-of-30 for a .900 save percentage. Both goalies were outstanding, as they have been all series.
Look for a recap of the whole series tomorrow and then a new stream for the series against the Vancouver Canucks.