Detroit Red Wings left wing Justin Abdelkader (8) and San Jose Sharks center Michal Handzus (26), of Slovakia, battle for the puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Detroit, Friday.
Associated Press Enlarge
DETROIT -- The San Jose Sharks still have a slight edge over the Detroit Red Wings.
Joe Thornton scored twice, and Antti Niemi made 30 saves in San Jose's 4-2 win over Detroit Friday night.
San Jose has eliminated Detroit in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs the last two seasons. It was a seven-game set last spring in which the Red Wings rallied from a 3-0 series deficit to force a decisive Game 7. Six of the seven games in that were decided by one goal, and only Thornton's empty-netter in the final minute prevented last night's contest from being another one-goal affair.
"Every game against them seems to be a one-goal game," Thornton said. "These are two good, competitive teams, and it's become a pretty good rivalry the last couple of years."
Patrick Marleau had a goal and an assist, and Ryane Clowe also scored for San Jose, which won its fourth straight.
Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Holmstrom scored for Detroit, which has lost three in a row. Nicklas Lidstrom had two assists, and Jimmy Howard made 26 saves.
"It was a good game. Sometimes you can fool yourself in these games though. The opposition gets you prepared for these games. You don't have to get yourself prepared," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "But being a pro is getting prepared every night so you have energy to play every night. So that's a challenge for us tomorrow [at Minnesota]."
Thornton's breakaway goal with 1:42 left in the second period snapped a 2-2 tie. The San Jose star beat Howard between the pads for his second goal after taking a pass from Joe Pavelski.
Marleau gave San Jose a 2-1 lead 7:57 into the second when he chipped a shot over Howard's shoulder from the slot after beating former Sharks defenseman Ian White to a loose puck, which actually deflected off White's sick.
"I was right in front of him, the puck was right there, I took a swipe at it, it bounced over my stick," White said. "I tried to get a stick on the shot, and I tipped it right upstairs."
White also got caught up ice on Thornton's goal.
Holmstrom's power-play goal with 5:16 left in the second period tied the score at 2. Pavel Datsyuk's shot from about 15-feet inside the blue line deflected in off Holmstrom for his first goal.
Zetterberg opened the scoring with 7:40 left in the first period. He put in the carom of Lidstrom's intentionally wide shot. It was Zetterberg's second goal.
An apparent goal by Detroit was waved off with 1:28 remaining in the opening when referee Brian Pochmara ruled incidental contact with Niemi by Holmstrom.
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