Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Birthday boy saves the day for the Sharks

Categories: Detroit Red Wings, SJS vs. DET, San Jose Sharks

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Benn Ferriero of the San Jose Sharks celebrates his overtime goal. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Benn Ferriero of the San Jose Sharks celebrates his overtime goal. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Benn Ferriero had no business claiming the winning goal in San Jose's 2-1 overtime win over Detroit in the first game of this Western Conference semifinal.

On the other hand, nobody had a better version of events, so that's how matters stand.

Ferriero, who was kicked up to the fourth line from Civilian Row only Thursday, flung a shot off Brad Stuart's stick and down between Jimmy Howard's pads to give the Sharks a win they were building toward but were also in danger of losing.

It was a simple matter of Logan Couture winning a battle with Justin Abdelkader along the wall and getting the puck to Ferriero, who turned quickly, shot the puck toward Howard and found glory.

"That was pretty much it," he said. "Cooch [Logan Couture] and [Detroit's Justin] Abdelkader fought along the wall for it, Cooch got it to me, I just turned and threw it at the net, and it hit a stick or skate or something and it just went in."

Now comes the fun part: It came on his 24th birthday. It came in his first Stanley Cup playoff game. It came on his eighth shift, his sixth minute of playing time and his second shot.

And it came after the Red Wings had just killed off a four-minute high-sticking penalty to Abdelkader early in the overtime, and were likely about to turn the game back their own way.

The Sharks played a solid, strong game and spent the bulk of the evening pressing the Wings in their own end, which is what the Wings are used to doing to others. The right team won, based on the run of play, but the run of play doesn't always prove to be a strong indicator of anything other than a handy alibi when that team loses.

Howard ended up making 44 saves against the playoff shot leaders, and was on the verge of turning the game into a marathon when Ferriero cheated the odds by throwing a puck blindly and hoping for the best.

And getting more than that.

San Jose is now 5-2 in the post-season, with four of those wins coming in overtime. Indeed, Ferriero was called upon at that moment because coach Todd McLellan was starting to think he needed to widen his three-line strategy for the longer haul.

But Ferriero saved him the trouble, and hit quite the fantasy quinella - first game, second shot, and blah blah blah. We're not sure what story he will tell his grandchildren, but the truth was pretty remarkable even without a granddad's embellishment allowance.

SAN JOSE LINES

Patrick Marleau     Joe Thornton    Devin Setoguchi
Dany Heatley       Logan Couture      Ryane Clowe
Torrey Mitchell     Joe Pavelski       Kyle Wellwood
Ben Eager       Scott Nichol           Benn Ferriero

Douglas Murray      Dan Boyle
Marc-Edouard Vlasic  Jason Demers
Ian White              Niclas Wallin

Antti Niemi
Antero Niittymaki

Wings burned by penalties

Even though they swept the Phoenix Coyotes in the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock warned his team that if they didn't stay out of the penalty box, trouble would soon be in their future.

A future of trouble that arrived Friday. Leading 1-0 after two periods, the Wings lost the lead on Joe Pavelski's power-play goal when Todd Bertuzzi went off for boarding. Early in the extra period, the winner from Benn Ferriero came just moments after Justin Abdelkader returned to the ice from serving a double minor for high-sticking.

"They've got a good power play," Detroit forward Johan Franzen said. "We've got to be careful."

Afterward, Babcock offered no excuses for his team's parade to the penalty box. Detroit was shorthanded seven times, which was also their undoing last spring in a five-game second-round loss to the Sharks.

"I had a problem with lots of the penalties," Babcock said. "We shouldn't be taking them. You can't take penalties. You're responsible for your stick.

"We took too many penalties. You can't be in the penalty box like that and expect to survive it."

Jimmy dandy

A bright spot for the Wings was the play of goaltender Jimmy Howard. He made 44 saves, 18 of them in the second period.

"He gave us a chance," Babcock said of Howard, who was beaten only by Ferriero's game-winner, that deflected off the stick of Detroit defenceman Brad Stuart, and a rebound that Pavelski batted out of mid-air.

"He plays with a lot of confidence and makes the first save, and he's been there for the rebound, so he's making second saves as well," Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom said of Howard.

O from the D

Lidstrom scored Detroit's lone goal, and it was the fifth goal of the playoffs scored by a Detroit defender. Brian Rafalski (two), Niklas Kronwall and Ruslan Salei have also registered a goal from the Detroit rearguard.

"I didn't mind my back end at all," Babcock said. "They just got way too much wear and tear on them, and their D had a night off.

"We didn't touch them. We never got in on them. Our forwards have got to be way better."

Changing up

When it became apparent that the Wings' eight-day layoff was impacting their performance, Babcock sought to shake the lethargy from his team by shuffling lines, switching Abdelkader, who started the night between Bertuzzi and Dan Cleary, with Valtteri Filppula, who was skating between Johan Franzen and Jiri Hudler.

"Especially up front, I didn't think we skated at all," Babcock said.

Record tally

Lidstrom's goal was his 51st in Stanley Cup play, moving him past Sergei Fedorov into third spot on the Red Wings career list. Only Steve Yzerman (70) and Gordie Howe (67) have scored more playoff goals in a Detroit uniform.

"No surprise," Detroit forward Henrik Zetterberg said of Lidstrom's latest accomplishment. "The season he had this year is unbelievable.

"That a guy that age [41] should be able to play like he does, it's pretty remarkable."

Sitting out

Not many teams can opt not to dress the active Stanley Cup goal-scoring leader -- Mike Modano with 58 -- and a guy who has suited up for 218 career playoff games -- Kris Draper -- but they were the healthy scratches at forward for Detroit in Game 1 as Henrik Zetterberg (sprained knee) and Franzen (ankle) returned to action.

It's the first time since Draper joined the Wings during the 1993-94 season that he's been a healthy scratch from a playoff game. He missed one game in 1996 due to a shoulder injury, three games in 1988 with a knee injury, and 15 games in 2009 because of neck and groin injuries.