Red Wings vs. Sharks Preview
San Jose, CA (AP) - The last time Detroit visited San Jose, the Sharks eliminated the Red Wings from the playoffs and prevented them from reaching the Western Conference finals for the fourth straight season.
Detroit is playing like it's still upset about that outcome.
The West-leading Red Wings look to continue their strong start to the season when they visit the Sharks on Tuesday night.
Oddsmakers from online sports book SBGGLOBAL.com have made the Sharks -108 money line NHL odds favorites for Tuesday's game against the Red Wings. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 66% of more than 57 bets for this game have been placed on the Sharks -108.
Detroit lost to Anaheim in the 2006-07 conference finals, beat Pittsburgh to win the Stanley Cup the following season and lost to the Penguins in a rematch in 2008-09. It opened last season's playoffs with a first-round win over Phoenix before meeting the Sharks in the West semifinals.
The Red Wings lost all three games in San Jose - each by one goal - and were eliminated with a 2-1 defeat in Game 5 at HP Pavilion.
"They were better than us," coach Mike Babcock said after the Game 5 loss. "The games were tight, but they found a way to continually win. That's what good teams do."
Detroit has found a way to continually win this season, losing only four times in regulation. The Red Wings (15-4-2) have 32 points, four more than Columbus and Chicago in the Central Division.
They made a statement against the Blue Jackets over the weekend, winning 2-1 at Columbus on Friday and 4-2 at home Sunday to sweep a home-and-home series.
"We had two tough games going in there and winning by a goal and then coming back here and even though we scored late, empty-netter, two tough games," captain Nicklas Lidstrom said.
Jimmy Howard won both games for Detroit, improving to 13-2-2 with a 2.49 goals-against average. He suffered all four losses against the Sharks in the playoffs after going 2-0-1 with a 1.62 GAA in three regular-season starts.
Howard is 26-2-4 with a 2.20 GAA over his last 32 regular-season starts overall.
If he gets the nod Tuesday, Howard will face a San Jose team that has won two of three following a three-game skid. The Sharks (11-7-4) held off Edmonton 4-3 on Saturday night after losing defensemen Niclas Wallin and Kent Huskins in the first period.
"I thought we were able to get through a little bit of adversity tonight with going down to four defensemen so early," said Dany Heatley, who had two goals and an assist. "I thought the whole team did a good job of dealing with that and playing the way we can play."
Coach Todd McLellan was happy the Sharks ended a six-game road losing streak considering they start a five-game trip after playing Detroit."All of a sudden we didn't turn the puck over," McLellan said. "All of a sudden we didn't give up too many outnumbered rushes. All of a sudden we won a lot more faceoff battles. It's funny how the game changes when you have to play it the right way. They raised the bar and have proven to each other that they can do it. Now they have to choose to do it all the time."