Red Wings 2, Sharks 1, SO

Jonas Gustavsson delivered just the kind of performance the

Detroit Red Wings expected when they signed him as a backup in the

offseason.

Gustavsson made 25 saves in his first start of the season and

was perfect in the shootout, leading the Red Wings to their third

win in four games with a 2-1 victory over the struggling San Jose

Sharks on Thursday night.

Slowed by a nagging groin injury early in the season, Gustavsson

was unable to be the reliable backup to Jimmy Howard that Detroit

needs – until he came up big against the Sharks. Gustavsson helped

the Red Wings bounce back after losing 2-1 in Los Angeles the

previous night.

”I was real excited to play today,” Gustavsson said. ”You

play because you want to win. That’s the best feeling you can have.

The guys really helped me a lot today. They made it easier for

me.”

Damien Brunner scored the lone goal in the shootout to give

Gustavsson his first win since March 3, 2012, for Toronto against

Montreal. Patrick Eaves tied the game midway through the third

period with his first goal in more than two years as the Red Wings

showed no signs of fatigue against the more-rested Sharks.

”We had a lot of energy out, especially after playing last

night,” Eaves said. ”I thought right from the start we didn’t

have any lull at all. We really wanted to have a push in this game

after last night and go for the two points.”

Logan Couture scored the lone goal for the Sharks, who lost 10

of 12 games in February and have just one regulation win in their

past 14 games. Antti Niemi made 33 saves but it wasn’t enough for

the win as San Jose’s scoring slump continues with just 10 goals in

the past nine games.

”It’s the same story every game,” Couture said. ”We have to

find a way to score more goals. Personally and as a team we have to

find a way to put it into the back of the net. You’re not going to

win many games scoring one goal and we’ve found that out

lately.”

San Jose was even blanked in the shootout, missing all three

attempts against a backup goalie, including a wrist shot by Ryane

Clowe that went wide to end the game.

That made Brunner’s forehand goal off Niemi’s glove in the

second round the game-winner. Brunner has scored the deciding goal

in both shootouts he has participated in as a rookie, also scoring

the lone goal against Columbus on Jan. 21.

”Good players are going to miss, so why should I put myself

under pressure going out there,” Brunner said. ”I know I can

score. It about being loose out there.”

This game between the only two teams to make the playoffs every

season since the 2004-05 lockout took on added importance as both

squads have struggled to find consistency in this lockout-shortened

season. Both clubs are in a logjam in the middle of the Western

Conference, with the Red Wings tied for fourth and the Sharks one

point back in a five-way tie for sixth place.

The teams traded goals early in the third period, with Couture

putting the Sharks on top when he scored the first goal less than 5

minutes into the period. The goal came after an odd bounce off the

backboards on a dump-in by Douglas Murray. Couture and Joe Thornton

did a good job at the blue line to keep the puck in the offensive

zone and Thornton then found Couture for a one-timer from the

circle to make it 1-0.

Niemi made a strong stop on a rebound from Daniel Cleary to

preserve the lead but had no chance when Eaves tipped Niklas

Kronwall’s point shot past him for the tying goal less than 2

minutes after San Jose scored to end a personal 46-game goal

drought.

Gustavsson preserved the tie when he made a tough stop on

Thornton from in close with less than 7 minutes to play, and the

game remained that way for the rest of regulation.

The Sharks had the better of the chances in the first two

periods, with Couture generating a few scoring chances in the first

period and Clowe missing wide after struggling to control the puck

on a breakaway.

San Jose then failed to even get a shot on a pair of 2-on-1s in

the second period as Patrick Marleau and Thornton each attempted

passes that failed to connect instead of shooting the puck.

”We haven’t exactly been lighting it up,” coach Todd McLellan

said. ”They’re smart people. They can watch the game. They know

they have to shoot the puck to score. It’s disappointing. When we

have those opportunities, we have to make good on them. Other teams

in the league are. We have to.”

NOTES: The Red Wings failed on two power-play chances and are 0

for 33 on the road this season. … Clowe returned from a two-game

suspension but remains without a goal in 17 games.