Dany Heatley had a pair of goals and an assist in San Jose’s latest win.
The Western Conference-leading Detroit Red Wings have played the fewest road games in the NHL, but that is about to change. The Wings begin a three-game West Coast trip starting with a Tuesday night visit to San Jose for a matchup with the injury-riddled Sharks.
Detroit won’t feel too sorry for the Sharks, as San Jose eliminated the Red Wings in the second round of last year’s playoffs. However, the Wings took three of the four regular season games. The ‘over’ is 7-2 in the last nine series meetings at San Jose.
The Red Wings began the past weekend tied with the Columbus Blue Jackets atop the Western Conference standings. However, Detroit registered home-and-home victories against the Jackets on Friday and Sunday to sit alone atop the conference.
Sunday’s 4-2 victory raised Detroit’s league-leading home ledger to 10-1-1-1, while Friday’s 2-1 win raised its road record to 5-3. The ‘over’ is 10-3 in the club’s first 13 home efforts, but the ‘under’ is 6-2 in its first eight road encounters.
Niklas Kronwall, Darren Helm, Valtteri Filppula and Danny Cleary scored goals for Detroit in Sunday’s victory, while Derick Brassard and Antoine Vermette scored for Columbus.
Though the Red Wings went 0-for-5 on the power play during Sunday’s victory, they still possess the league’s sixth-best power play with a 22.5 percent success rate.
Jimmy Howard, who has now started 12 straight games between the pipes for the Wings, stopped 29-of-31 shots in Sunday’s win to raise his record to an impressive 13-2-2. He has a 2.49 GAA, a .914 save percentage and one shutout.
Detroit has now scored four goals or more in 10 of its first 21 overall outings, helping the club rank second on offense with a 3.4 GPG average. Mike Babcock’s squad also ranks second in shots on goal, firing an average of 33.1 shots per game. The Wings rank 12th defensively, allowing an average of 2.6 GPG.
Red Wings center Mike Modano is out indefinitely after having surgery on his right wrist. He had nerve damage and a sliced tendon in his wrist after getting cut by a skate blade Friday night against Columbus. He has two goals and six assists in 20 games this season.
Dany Heatley collected two goals and an assist Saturday night to lead the San Jose Sharks past the Edmonton Oilers as 160 NHL odds favorites, 4-3. The win snapped San Jose’s six-game road winless skid and enabled the club to improve its road record to 4-4-2 and its overall ledger to 11-7-4. San Jose owns a 7-3-2 home mark.
The combined seven goals skipped above the 5 ½-goal closing total. It marked San Jose’s third straight ‘over’ game and improved the club’s ‘over’ mark to 14-8. The ‘over’ is 8-4 in the squad’s first 12 home efforts and 7-1 in its last eight overall encounters.
Benn Ferriero and Joe Pavelski also scored for San Jose. It only took the Sharks 1:10 to open the scoring, as Ferriero was left untouched to backhand in a rebound. It was the first goal of the season for Ferriero, who was called up from San Jose's AHL affiliate in Worcester.
San Jose netminder Antero Niittymaki stopped 22-of-25 shots to notch the victory and raise his record to 8-2-3. He has a nifty 2.14 GAA and .917 save percentage.
Backup goalie Anti Niemi, who the Sharks plucked away from the defending Cup champion Blackhawks during the offseason, is just 3-5-1 with a bloated 3.93 GAA and a dismal .877 save percentage.
Despite a league-leading 35.1 shots on goal per game, the Sharks rank 12th offensively with a 2.9 GPG average. They are 19th defensively by allowing an average of 2.9 GPG.
Sharks defenseman Niclas Wallin had to be helped of the ice early in the first period of Saturday’s victory after a collision with Andrew Cogliano. Wallin didn't return and is listed as “questionable.” Center Scott Nichol (eye), defenseman Kent Huskins (knee) and right wing Devin Setoguchi (upper body) are also listed as “questionable” by Don Best Sports.
San Jose will follow Tuesday’s home game against Detroit with a five-game road trip beginning with a Thursday match at Ottawa. The Red Wings will continue their West Coast trip with a Friday stop in Anaheim against the Ducks.