The Detroit Red Wings were nearly perfect in a 6-2 triumph over the San Jose Sharks Tuesday at Detroit. “Nearly” wasn’t good enough.
“We’re going to have to play better,” Detroit forward Shawn Burr said. “In two games, we’ve only played four good periods. We need to play 60-minute games. We can play better, believe me.”
Detroit has a 2-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Western Conference semifinal series, which shifts to San Jose for Games 3 and 4 on Thursday and Saturday.
“They are twice as good a team,” Sharks goalie Arturs Irbe said. “They’ve added speed, they’ve added goaltending. I can tell that they believe in one another. They have the chemistry. That’s the difference.”
The Red Wings, still smarting about being upset by the Sharks in the first round last season, came out with their big guns firing. Paul Coffey, Sergei Fedorov, Steve Yzerman and Dino Ciccarelli - four of the best shooters in the game - all scored first-period goals.
Fedorov and Doug Brown scored in the second period for a 6-0 lead.
Coffey also had an assist, giving him 164 playoff points and tying him with Denis Potvin for most playoff points by a defenseman in NHL history.
The Sharks ended a season-long scoring drought in Detroit with powerplay goals from Mike Rathje and Ulf Dahlen in the third period. Rathje’s goal 6 minutes into the period ended a stretch of 232 minutes, 36 seconds without a goal in Joe Louis Arena.
The last goal scored by the Sharks in Detroit was Jamie Baker’s game-winner at 13:25 of the third period in Game 7 of the first round last season.
Detroit put tremendous pressure on Irbe in the first two periods. Irbe was the architect of San Jose’s seven-game upset in the 1994 series, and the Red Wings looked like they couldn’t wait to get at him.
“They came out like they were the team trying to get back into the series,” Sharks forward Chris Tancill said. “They were good and we were bad. They’re too good of a team to fall behind like that. They’ll eat you up alive.”
Coffey’s goal came just 1:37 into the game and the Red Wings never let up.
Detroit had the first nine shots on goal, outshot the Sharks 21-8 in the first period, 20-5 in the second and 46-17 for the game. When the Sharks did manage a quality shot, Mike Vernon would turn it away.
“Our guys really worked hard,” Vernon said. “Our confidence level is up. It’s a treat to sit there and watch the guys attack like that. It’s great to see the guys working so hard and having success from their hard work.”
The Red Wings, who last won a Stanley Cup championship 40 years ago, have dominated San Jose in 1995. During the abbreviated season, the Red Wings were 4-0 against the Sharks, outscoring them 19-4 and outshooting them 145-67.
Red Wings 6, Sharks 2
San Jose 0 0 2 - 2
Detroit 4 2 0 - 6
First period-1, Detroit, Coffey 3 (Yzerman, Errey), 1:37. 2, Detroit, Fedorov 2 (Coffey, Lidstrom), 9:38 (pp). 3, Detroit, Yzerman 2 (Errey), 12:07. 4, Detroit, Ciccarelli 6 (Primeau), 14:47.
Second period-5, Detroit, Fedorov 3 (Yzerman, Ciccarelli), 14:01 (pp). 6, Detroit, Brown 2 (Fedorov), 19:45 (sh).
Third period-7, San Jose, Rathje 4 (Larionov), 6:01 (pp). 8, San Jose, Dahlen 5 (Friesen, More), 10:19 (pp).
Shots on goal-San Jose 8-5-4-17. Detroit 21-20-5-46.Power-play opp.-San Jose 2 of 4; Detroit 2 of 3.Goalies-San Jose, Irbe 3-3 (46 shots-40 saves). Detroit, Vernon 6-1 (17-15).A-19,875 (19,875).
Blackhawks 2, Canucks 0
Jeremy Roenick came back from a knee injury to provide an emotional lift and Ed Belfour made 17 saves as Chicago defeated Vancouver for a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference semifinal.
Jim Cummins scored his first career playoff goal and Patrick Poulin added the third-period clincher for the Blackhawks, who have won 14 of 16 series in team history after winning the first two games. Chicago is 6-0 against the Canucks this season.
Vancouver, which returns home for Games 3 and 4 on Thursday and Saturday, has lost all seven times in club history after dropping the first two games of a series.
Belfour, who tied for the NHL lead with five shutouts this season, earned the second of his playoff career. The other came three years ago during the Blackhawks’ run to the Stanley Cup finals.
His best save was a diving stick stop of a shot by Geoff Courtnall just moments before Poulin’s breakaway goal at 5:48 of the third period.
The standing-room-only crowd of 21,358 cheered loudly 40 seconds into the game, when Roenick leaped over the boards for his first shift since he hurt his knee April 2.
Roenick is a skilled player, the only Blackhawk to amass three consecutive 100-point seasons.But his trademarks are intensity and scrappiness, qualities he brought out immediately.
Vancouver 0 0 0 - 0
Chicago 1 0 1 - 2
First period-1, Chicago, Cummins 1 (Shantz, Daze), 13:56.
Third period-2, Chicago, Poulin 3 (Graham, Russell), 5:48.
Shots on goal-Vancouver 5-9-3-17. Chicago 11-5-4-20.Power-play opp.-Vancouver 0 of 2; Chicago 0 of 2.Goalies-Vancouver, McLean 4-5 (20 shots-18 saves). Chicago, Belfour 6-3 (17-17).A-21,358 (20,500).
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