Red Wings finally solve Sharks in road shootout win

Ross McKeon, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

SAN JOSE -- Detroit Red Wings center Damien Brunner scored the only goal in the shootout as the San Jose Sharks were glad to see February turn to March after a 2-1 loss on Thursday night.
Michal Handzus, Patrick Marleau and Ryane Clowe all failed in the shootout as San Jose finished the month with a 2-6-4 record.
"It's the same story. We've got to find a way to score more goals," San Jose's Logan Couture said. "Personally, and as a team, we have to find a way to put it in the back of the net. You're not going to win many games scoring one goal. We've found that out lately."
Detroit, playing for the second time in as many nights, snapped a three-game losing streak on foreign ice and beat the Sharks as hosts for only the third time in their last 12 tries.
Detroit backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson was a big reason why the Wings earned the two points. He was making his first start with Detroit after logging 68 minutes of playing time with two relief appearances earlier in the season. Starter Jimmy Howard, 0-4-1 with a 4.06 goals-against average in his last five visits to San Jose, rested.
"I'm really happy with the win," Gustavsson said. "I'm happy with how the guys performed, they helped me a lot. They made it easier for me."
The fact Brunner is new to the NHL made him somewhat of an unknown to Sharks goalie Antti Niemi in the shootout. Brunner, with 10 goals in his first 21 NHL games, beat Niemi with a forehand.
"I was trying to be patient. I think the shot hit the glove and went in," Niemi said. "I got maybe a little too deep in the net there."
The Red Wings outshot the Sharks 3-1 in sudden death as a shootout was required to decide it for the sixth time in San Jose's last seven games at home.
"We thought we deserved more last night in L.A.," Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "When we came in here we knew it was going to be a tough game. We prepared the same way we did last night, we just wanted to work hard and we played a good game."
Detroit's tying goal was credited to Patrick Eaves, his first of the season, on a deflection in front on a sequence that started with Niklas Kronwall's blast from the middle of the blue line less than two minutes after San Jose broke a scoreless tie.
"I thought it was coming lower then it bounced over my pad," Niemi said.
The Sharks finally broke through when Logan Couture scored his eighth goal of the season at 4:49. Joe Thornton forced Detroit's Justin Abdelkader into a turnover, then fed Couture for a one-timer from the right circle.
"The conference is so tight, there are so many good teams," Couture said. "There are no easy nights, no easy points. Any time you can get a point it's good, but obviously you want two."
The two teams combined for only 13 shots in the middle period with the Sharks getting the better of the prime scoring chances.
Martin Havlat fanned on Marleau's cross-ice feed during an opening-minute 2-on-1. Handzus chipped a shot alone in front at 8:49 into the gut of Gustavsson.
Gustavsson lost his mask diving across the crease to deny Tim Kennedy's wrap-around attempt with 10:48 remaining. And Detroit defenseman Brian Lashoff denied a Thornton pass during a late-period 2-on-1.
The Wings' best chance came when Eaves bulleted a one-timer from the right circle that Niemi deflected.
"He made some really, really big saves for us," Couture said. "He was the reason we got one point tonight. We need to score more goals for him."
Defenseman Dan Boyle nearly scored on San Jose's first and only power play of the first 40 minutes. His blast from the blue line caromed off the boards and slipped behind Gustavsson, who managed to not knock it back in. The power play was cut short at 42 seconds when Marleau ran over Gustavsson for goaltender interference. San Jose finished February 3-for-52 on the power play.
Clowe had the best chance for either team during a scoreless first period. Fresh off a two-game suspension, Clowe was stopped on a breakaway with just more than five minutes left in the opening session after Lashoff turned the puck over at center.
Clowe lined up on left wing alongside Handzus and Kennedy on a checking line after spending the first 16 games of the season in a top-six role. Clowe was still looking for his first goal of the season.
Detroit, which outshot San Jose 11-9 in the period, failed on the game's only power play in the opening 20 minutes.
NOTES: Brad Stuart faced Detroit for the first time since the San Jose defenseman left last summer after four seasons with the Red Wings to sign as a free agent with the team that originally drafted him. ... Detroit center Valtteri Filppula missed his second game due to a shoulder injury. ... Defensemen Kent Huskins and Ian White, both ex-Sharks, were healthy scratches. ... Sharks left wing Ryane Clowe returned from a two-game suspension and played on a checking line for the first time after appearing 16 times in a top-six role. ... San Jose defenseman Jason Demers and center Andrew Desjardins did not dress. ... Detroit played one night after losing in Los Angeles. The Red Wings and Chicago play 12 sets of back-to-backs this shortened season, most in the NHL.