SAN JOSE (AP) — Henrik Zetterberg batted a puck out of the air from the slot for one of his two goals that helped the Detroit Red Wings get a small token of revenge for last season’s playoff elimination, beating the San Jose Sharks 5-3 Tuesday night.
Zetterberg added two assists. But it was his first goal that was the prettiest on a night when the ice was far from its best because of a long power outage at HP Pavilion that forced both teams to cancel the morning skate and led to less-than-ideal conditions.
That didn’t seem to bother the Red Wings, who also got goals from Pavel Datsyuk, Danny Cleary and Patrick Eaves to beat the Sharks in their first meeting since the playoffs in May.
San Jose won that postseason series in five games against their longtime nemesis in the Western Conference, getting all four wins by only one goal in a matchup that was far tighter than the final outcome.
But things haven’t gone so well early this season for the Sharks, who are mired in the middle of the pack in the conference while the Red Wings have returned to their familiar perch atop the standings.
Jimmy Howard made 25 saves to win for the 27th time in his last 33 regular-season starts. Datsyuk and Brian Rafalski also had two assists for Detroit, which has won four of five and leads the conference with 34 points.
Dany Heatley, Benn Ferriero and Ryane Clowe scored for the Sharks, who now go on a five-game road trip that begins with Heatley’s highly anticipated return to Ottawa on Thursday night. Heatley was dealt to the Sharks before last season after demanding a trade from the Senators.
Zetterberg had the highlight of this game shortly after the end of a Detroit power play. He was standing in the slot when the puck came in a few feet off the ice. He swung his stick and hit the puck cleanly off the post for a goal that likely would have made Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera proud.
The Sharks answered less than 2 minutes later when Ferriero knocked in a rebound past Howard while falling to the ice to cut Detroit’s lead to 3-2.
The Red Wings added a goal late in the second when Eaves deflected a point shot from Cleary past Antero Niittymaki with 10.6 seconds remaining in the period. Zetterberg scored again midway through the third as the Red Wings cruised to the win.
The Sharks were undermanned, with defensemen Niclas Wallin, Kent Huskins and Jason Demers all sidelined with injuries, as well as forward Devin Setoguchi. The injuries forced San Jose to use three defensemen—Derek Joslin, Justin Braun and Mike Moore—from its minor league team in Worcester and the inexperience showed early in the game.
Just 14 seconds after Jamal Mayers went to the penalty box for high-sticking, Cleary got away from Braun and was all alone in front of the net to tip a centering pass from Zetterberg past Niittymaki for the first goal.
Datsyuk then gave Braun, playing his third NHL game, quite a lesson. Datsyuk beat the rookie with a great individual move and then stickhandled past Niittymaki for an easy goal that gave Detroit a 2-0 lead.
NOTES: Cleary played in his 700th career game. … Joe Thornton scored his 500th point with San Jose on the fifth anniversary of his trade from Boston. … The Sharks have not gotten a goal from a defenseman for six straight games. … Sharks F Scott Nichol returned after missing two games because he was hit in the face with a puck during practice.
(© 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)