Datsyuk plays well in return but Wings fall
Detroit — Pavel Datsyuk returned and played well, generating shots and scoring chances.
The Red Wings spent a lot of time with the puck, and in the San Jose Sharks zone. They outshot San Jose, 28-14.
But the Wings still lost Friday at Joe Louis Arena, 3-2.
They ended a three-game homestand 1-2, and play the Bruins in Boston on Saturday night.
Coach Jeff Blashill and the captain, Henrik Zetterberg, said before the game that Datsyuk’s return would help with offensive depth, increasing possession and producing more scoring chances.
That all seemed to work, but the Wings could score only twice.
And were guilty of a couple of big defensive lapses around goalie Jimmy Howard that cost them dearly.
Ovations greeted Datsyuk’s first appearance on the ice, when his unit with Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkdaer replaced the starting line of Dylan Larkin, Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist.
He also got a big cheer the first time he possessed the puck and drew oos-and-aahs when he fiddled and diddled momentarily in the slot.
Clearly Red Wings fans missed his play and his flash.
It was Tatar who opened the scoring at 3:13 of the period.
He took a pass from Larkin from inside the Sharks blue line in the right circle and let go a 35-foot snap shot that beat goalie Martin Jones.
Niklas Kronwall picked up his sixth assist and point of the season.
But the lead did not last long.
With the Red Wings defensive alignment in disarray, Melker Karlsson was allowed to stand to Jimmy Howard’s left, directly on the crease and twice bang at the puck before beating the Wings goalie on the short side between his body and the post.
“I don’t know how I got it in, but it went in,” Karlson told the CSN California broadcast.
Howard could be faulted for failing to secure his short side. But with Joe Thornton and Matt Tennyson, who got the assists, free to roam around his net, he had little help.
The goal came at 7:40.
About 10 minutes later the Red Wings suffered a similar structural failure, and Howard looked too slow in the crease to grapple with the scoring opportunities it produced.
Matt Nieto scored on a 15-foot wrist shot at 17:52, from the defensemen Brenden Dillon and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
Clearly it was one of Howard’s more difficult periods of the season, and he could have used some help.
The Wings outshot the Sharks 9-7 in the period.
Datsyuk had two shots on net in the first.
He did not quite get one away at about the 16-minute mark when he skated right across the goal mouth with the puck and Jones seemingly at his mercy, but could not get a shot away.
The Red Wings continued to carry much of the action and to outshoot the Sharks in the second period, 13-4. But, once again, it was San Jose that scored.
About halfway through the period, Paul Martin let a shot rip from the left point that Joe Pavelski was able to tip. Meanwhile, the bodies in front of Howard included Kronwall.
It was a play of considerable skill by Pavelski.
Howard had little chance on it, and the puck was likely behind him before he saw it.
With 1:42 left in the period, Darren Helm got the puck to Datsyuk in the slot and held it dangerously there for a moment, but then put the shot into Jones’ stomach.
Except for their defensive lapses, the Wings were playing better than their opponent. But they found themselves down by two goals.
Through two periods, Datsyuk led the Red Wings in shots on goal with four.
About 4:30 into the third, Helm had Jones nearly down and beaten, but the goalie made a terrific save to deny the Wings forward from point-blank range, alone in front.
The Wings had a couple more big opportunities, including by Teemu Pulkkinen at point-blank range in front of Jones. But the Sharks goalie seemed to sharpen as the game progressed.
Pulkkinen finally scored at 18:08 of the third on a blast from the point, with assists from Jakub Kindl and Tatar.
The NHL, the Red Wings and the Sharks had a moment of silence for the victims of the Paris attacks before the game.
The game was played under heightened security, the Red Wings announced.
“Due to the unfolding events taking place tonight in Paris, Joe Louis Arena Security has coordinated with law enforcement officials to provide enhanced security measures at Joe Louis Arena for tonight’s game,” the Red Wings said in a news release issued after about five minutes of the first period.
“These measures are being taken out of an abundance of caution and will be kept in place until more information is available.”