Thanks especially to the pictured stars of the game, the Sharks now have 19 wins in the last 25 games against their former Western Conference rivals. Changing to the Eastern Conference for the 2013-14 NHL season means Detroit will not face its nemesis again until at least the 2014 Stanley Cup Finals.
At least the Red Wings earned a point in their home contest in October. They were only able to keep this one close for about half the game.
San Jose grabbed the lead just under five minutes into the game: Brent Burns got the puck to Joe Thornton, who skated deep then pulled up to find Joe Pavelski backing away from his defender in the slot for the one-timer goal.
In the last five minutes of the first, the tide turned. Detroit stayed on the attack through a line change for both teams, getting an attempt on the first and two the second time around, when Brendan Smith kept the puck in and Luke Glendening's shot was blocked by Dan Boyle. Marc-Edouard Vlasic was left without a stick to cover Tomas Tartar, who danced behind the net and came out with a wicked backhand to the far corner.
The Red Wings rode that play to the next five shots and closed the first with a 12-9 edge, but a penalty in the final 20 seconds allowed the Sharks to start the second period on the attack. While the power play did not result in a goal, it started a strong of five shots in eight unanswered attempts.
Just before the mid-point of the game, San Jose finally broke through again: Vlasic advanced the puck to Bracken Kearns, who gave it to Andrew Desjardins coming into the zone. The wrist-shot, game-winning goal came from the edge of the left-wing circle 44 feet out and still went over Jimmy Howard's shoulder.
Not even three minutes went by before the Sharks got an insurance goal: Brad Stuart got the puck from Justin Braun and fired it on net, then it rebounded to Pavelski wide of the defense, who kicked it off his skate and put in the tough-angle shot.
In the final four minutes of the second, San Jose's power play finally came through: Pavelski's shot from the high slot was retrieved by Thornton and fed to Jason Demers at the point, who found Boyle on the wing for the goal.
Detroit decided to give Petr Mrazek some work in the third period, but he faced only three shots. Allowing only five shots to a team with a three-goal deficit is the kind of play that will win games for the Sharks in the Western Conference, especially during the Stanley Cup playoffs.
For the game, they won the faceoff battle 31-21 and thus did well to have only three more giveaways (12-9) and an astonishing 14-6 edge in takeaways. Because of milking the clock in the third, they only had five more shot attempts (59-54) and one more reach goal (26-25) but still had more blocks (18-14) and as many hits (19).
The Sharks are now 9-3-2 vs. the Eastern Conference and 16-1-3 overall at home for the 2013-14 NHL season. They maintain a three-point lead over the Los Angeles Kings for second place in the Pacific Division, putting them in position to get the all-important home-ice advantage in the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs.