San Jose’s Patrick Marleau led the Sharks to a 3-2 victory over Detroit with his first goal of the series at 12:13 in the third period, eliminating the Red Wings in Game 7 on Thursday night.
Detroit was aiming to become just the fourth team in NHL playoff history to bounce back from a 3-0 series deficit but it was not to be.
The Red Wings put up a valiant effort despite a rocky first period, closing the game with just the kind of late-match intensity fans have come to expect from a series that epitomizes playoff hockey.
Devin Setoguchi and Logan Couture added goals for San Jose in the first period.
Henrik Zetterberg put one past Antti Niemi in the second and Pavel Datsyuk beat the Sharks’ netminder again in the third.
Niemi made 38 saves, narrowly edging out visiting goaltender Jimmy Howard, who halted 27 shots levied against him.
The first period belonged to the Sharks, who simply plastered the ice with their presence, giving Detroit very little room to move the puck.
Setoguchi got things started at 12:20 in the first period, following a pass from Joe Thornton from behind the Detroit net, giving San Jose the 1-0 lead.
Couture scored in the final minute of the first, seizing his sixth of the playoffs and securing the Sharks’ 2-0 cushion.
Perhaps taking a lesson from their opponents, the Red Wings emerged as the pacesetters throughout the second period, thoroughly outshooting San Jose 17-6, forcing the home team into a state of constant defensive recovery.
Detroit edged their way on to the board at 13:10 in the second with Zetterberg scoring on the backhand, his third of the playoffs.
As the puck dropped following the second intermission, it looked like anyone’s game with both teams hammering out of the gates, trading goals within minutes of each other.
Marleau provided all the insurance the Sharks needed, scoring his first of the series at 12:13 in the third, placing the Sharks in a commanding 3-1 lead.
Not to be outdone, Datsyuk responded almost immediately with a goal of his own at 13:59, once again putting Detroit within one goal of San Jose, stifling the elated Shark Tank.
But Datsyuk’s goal was simply not enough to stay the tide and San Jose emerged victorious.
With their narrow victory over Detroit, the Sharks are set to face off against the Vancouver Canucks in the Western Conference final, bringing them one step closer in their quest for the Stanley Cup.