Sharks Beat Detroit in NHL Western Conference Semifinal Opener

The San Jose Sharks beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-3 in the opening game of their National Hockey League second-round playoff series.

Joe Pavelski had two goals and an assist and Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi also scored for the top-seeded Sharks at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California, last night to get the Western Conference semifinals under way.

“It’s exciting, it’s the time of year we want to be playing,” Pavelski, who has 13 career playoff goals, said in a televised interview. “We won the battles and the puck kept getting in the net.”

The series winner will play the third-seeded Vancouver Canucks or No. 2 seed Chicago Blackhawks for a place in the Stanley Cup finals. The Canucks-Blackhawks series begins tomorrow in Chicago. The Sharks have never won the Stanley Cup, while the fifth-seeded Red Wings are seeking a 12th NHL championship.

Pavelski put the Sharks ahead with a power-play goal midway through the opening period, and it was 3-0 within 90 seconds as Heatley and Setoguchi also scored.

Detroit’s Daniel Cleary made it 3-1 and the deficit was cut to one goal 4:45 into the second period on a Johan Franzen goal.

San Jose, without leading regular-season scorer Patrick Marleau because of illness, restored its two-goal advantage within a minute of the start of the final period on Pavelski’s seventh goal of the playoffs. Detroit’s Brian Rafalski made it 4-3 two minutes later.

The series continues in San Jose on May 2.

Tonight, the Montreal Canadiens, who ousted the top-seeded Washington Capitals after trailing 3-1 in the first round, begin their Eastern Conference semifinal at the Stanley Cup defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins.

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