SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 02: Jimmy Howard #35 of the Detroit Red Wings lies down on the ice to make a save during their game against the San Joses Sharks in Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at HP Pavilion on May 2, 2010 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Joe Pavelski kept up his sizzling postseason for San Jose, scoring twice to push his NHL-high playoff total to nine and setting up Ryane Clowe’s between-the-legs score. Thornton then won it by ending his playoff drought.
Dany Heatley skated up ice on a 3-on-2 break and fired a slap shot at Jimmy Howard. Thornton beat Brian Rafalski to the rebound in the crease and poked in the winner. The series now shifts to Detroit for Games 3 and 4, starting Tuesday night.
Pavel Datsyuk, Tomas Holmstrom and 40-year-old captain Nicklas Lidstrom scored for the Red Wings, who were unable to hold onto a 3-2 lead heading into the third in part because they committed too many penalties.
Pavelski tied it early in the third when he poked in a rebound that was in the crease with the Sharks on a two-man advantage that he had set up. With Todd Bertuzzi already in the box for holding Marc-Edouard Vlasic in the offensive zone, Pavelski drew a tripping call on Niklas Kronwall that gave San Jose the 5-on-3 power play for 1:20.
Pavelski scored what proved to be the winner in the opener on another two-man advantage early in the third period that had Detroit coach Mike Babcock steaming. He figured to be just as upset after this game, when the Sharks had an 10-4 advantage on power plays, including one to end the game.
Evgeni Nabokov made 28 saves for San Jose, including a sharp glove stop on Datsyuk early in the third to keep the Sharks’ deficit at one goal.
The Sharks have won five straight games since Dan Boyle’s pass deflected off a Colorado stick and into his own net in Game 3 of the first round. That’s a sign they might finally be shedding the label of postseason underachievers. To do that, they still need to knock off the Red Wings, who have ruled the Western Conference by going to six of the past 14 Stanley Cup finals. No other team in the conference has been to the finals more than twice in that span.
The two days off following San Jose’s 4-3 victory in Game 1 helped Detroit recover from a seven-game series against Phoenix and San Jose’s Patrick Marleau to shake the illness that sidelined him for the opener.
But it did not allow Marleau to get over his playoff blues and get back into the form that helped him score a team-leading 44 goals in the regular season for San Jose. Marleau started the game on the third line and made few contributions other than winning the faceoff that helped set up San Jose’s first goal.
It was his boarding penalty at the end of the first period that led to a key goal for Detroit. With Nabokov trying to move Holmstrom from in front of the net, Lidstrom fired a shot from the point that sneaked in for the even-strength goal just as Marleau’s penalty ended.
It was Lidstrom’s fourth goal of the playoffs and first since celebrating his 40th birthday on Wednesday, the day after he scored twice to help beat Phoenix in Game 7.
Holsmtrom’s net presence led to Detroit’s second goal when he tipped in Rafalski’s shot from the point on the power play to tie it at 2 in the first period.
The Sharks dominated the play for much of the first period, getting the first six shots on net and keeping the puck in the Detroit end for long stretches. But despite the edge in possession and shots, San Jose was still tied at 2 after one.
Datsyuk had a great individual effort after on a turnover in the offensive zone by Thornton for the first goal of the game and Holmstrom’s tip tied it.
Pavelski was once again central to San Jose’s goals, beating Howard with a point shot on the power play and setting up a pretty goal by Clowe. Pavelski beat Brad Stuart to a loose puck, stopped short to create space and fed Clowe, who with his back to the goal shot the puck between his legs and past Howard to give San Jose a 2-1 lead.