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Published: Friday, 4/30/2010

Sharks draw first blood vs. Wings

ASSOCIATED PRESS

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Joe Pavelski started the second round of the playoffs the same way he ended the first, scoring big goals for the San Jose Sharks.

Pavelski scored the first of three goals in a 1:19 span in the first period and added a second power-play goal early in the third to lead San Jose to a 4-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night in Game 1 of the second-round series.

Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi added first-period goals to help the Sharks end a string of four straight home losses in series openers.

“It was exciting,” Pavelski said of the first-period outburst. “You get in those once in a while with momentum. You definitely want to keep building on it. Three goals isn't safe by any means as you saw. They battled back.”

But Pavelski made sure the Red Wings couldn't finish the job, scoring on a two-man advantage in the opening minute of the third period to restore a two-goal lead. That proved to be his third game-winning goal and seventh overall in his breakout postseason.

“He's a stud right now for us,” teammate Joe Thornton said. “We want him to keep it going.”

The Sharks were the more rested team having had four days off since knocking off Colorado in six games. The Red Wings opened the series less than 48 hours after winning Game 7 in the first round at Phoenix, but showed no signs of fatigue in rallying back.

Game 2 will be Sunday night in San Jose.

“It was a good game and it's going to be a good series,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We didn't play poorly, they just shot it to the net and we made a couple of mistakes.”

Brian Rafalski got it back to a one-goal game when he scored early in the third period and Jimmy Howard turned away numerous good chances on a power play midway through the period to keep Detroit in it.

But the Red Wings were unable to get the equalizer on their own power play right after that and Evgeni Nabokov stopped a late flurry in front of the net to preserve the lead in the closing seconds. Detroit finished 0 for 5 on the power play.

“No lead is safe, especially against them,” Nabokov said. “They weren't going away. They were coming and they were coming. But we stood our ground.”

San Jose hadn't taken a 1-0 series lead since winning in Detroit three years ago. But the Red Wings came back to win that second-round series in six games. That was just one of many recent playoff disappointments for the Sharks, who have the second best regular season record — trailing only Detroit — over the past five years but haven't made it past the second round.

Nothing would help the Sharks shed their label of playoff underachievers more than knocking off the two-time defending Western Conference champion Red Wings, who are viewed by many as the favorites in this series against the top-seeded Sharks despite finishing fifth in the conference.

“We won the first game, but that's pretty much all it is,” Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle said. “I know I'm Debbie Downer sometimes. That's it. We won Game 1. There's so much work left to be done.”

The Sharks were without their leading goal scorer in the regular season as Patrick Marleau was scratched because of an illness. He is day to day.

But San Jose has been carried this postseason by Pavelski's line with Setoguchi and Ryane Clowe, instead of the gold medal trio of Marleau, Heatley and Joe Thornton.

The Sharks got production from both lines in Game 1. They put together their fastest flurry of three goals ever in a playoff game midway through the first period.

“They got a quick jump on us,” Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. “The first goal came on a power play and then we turned the puck over and they made a nice play from behind the net. They got the head start. We battled back but could never catch up. We played a solid game.”



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