Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Devin Setoguchi and the San Jose Sharks Continue OT Success; Take 3-0 Series Lead

It took a Devin Setoguchi hat trick, including the overtime clincher, to push the San Jose Sharks past the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night. The Sharks continued their perfect streak of overtime wins, now five of five, and put the Red Wings into a huge 3-0 series hole.

Instant classic.

Arguably both teams' best efforts of the series, the Sharks managed to get by the Red Wings with solid goaltending from Antti Niemi and a little hockey luck.

Everyone knew the Red Wings would come out swinging in Game 3, being down 2-0 in the series, so it was no surprise when Sharks' goalie Niemi was swamped with a flurry of shots early in the first period. Fortunately for the Sharks, Niemi was perfect in net for most of the period, making several superb saves and keeping the Sharks mentally in the game.

With Niemi's incredible saves came frustration from the Red Wings and they picked up a penalty, which lead to a Setoguchi goal, his second of the playoffs.

Niemi remained superb in net, but his opponent Jimmy Howard matched him shot-for-shot in the first period, stopping 12 shots to Niemi's 11.

The Sharks looked to hold a first period lead when Nicklas Lidstrom scored for the Red Wings with 19 seconds to go in the period, tying the game at one apiece.

Both teams came out firing in the second period with a the pace of play being extremely quick, which led to scoring opportunities aplenty.

The Red Wings took momentum when Patrick Eaves scored at 13:59 of the second period. It was soon followed by another power play goal by Setoguchi, but this time he threw Howard a little off-speed and it got by for Setoguchi's second goal of the game.

Still, the Red Wings dictated the pace of play in their home arena. Pavel Datsyuk continued his phenominal series with a power play goal of his own at the end of the second period, and the Red Wings took full momentum into the 3rd period.

But it was the Sharks who had the early opportunities to start the third period. Howard continued his brilliance in net stopping a flurry of shots from the Sharks keeping the Red Wings with the advantage on the scoreboard.

Again, the Sharks continued to strike, and with seven minutes to play, urgency set in.

With four minutes to play, a scuffle to the left of the net resulted in Kyle Wellwood throwing the puck in front of the net and into Dan Boyle's lap. He would strike top-shelf over Howard's glove to tie the game at 3-3.

The game went to overtime.

An early holding penalty lead to a hard-earned Sharks penalty kill thanks to save after save from Niemi.

That shift in momentum would lead to a Setoguchi goal halfway through overtime giving the Sharks the 3-0 series lead.

The goal gave Setoguchi a hat trick for the game, as he scored three of the Sharks' four goals.

For the Red Wings, this one will hurt.

Several opportunities to score during regulation, including the power play to start the overtime period, did not ignite the score sheet for the Red Wings.

For the Sharks, it was their play on the defensive side of the puck that got them this win. A strong penalty kill in overtime, as well as a solid Niemi in net constantly switched momentum in the Sharks favor during the game.

At the end of overtime, it was either going to be a whole new series or the nearing end of one.

I'd say, with the Sharks effort tonight, the Red Wings will need to pull something out of a hat to get back into this series and stop the seemingly destined San Jose Sharks.

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