DETROIT — The Sharks proved they can score a lot of goals early this season. On Monday, they showed they can play defense.
Logan Couture scored the only goal in the shootout following a scoreless game, and San Jose earned a 1-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.
The Sharks (8-0-1) are the NHL's last undefeated team in regulation, and they have a league-high 39 goals.
“We scored a lot of goals in our first eight games. We're not going to keep scoring like that,” Couture said.
Each goalie was credited with a shutout for not allowing a goal in 65 minutes. Antti Niemi, who earned his 24th career shutout, made 24 saves for San Jose. Jimmy Howard, who recorded his 17th shutout, stopped 27 shots for Detroit (6-3-1).
Niemi blanked Detroit for the third time in his career.
The teams put on a defensive clinic, which meant there were few chances.
“Not much space out there. It was very playoff-like,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. “Both teams played a prevent-type game. … It was a chess match, there's no doubt about it. Even on the power play and penalty kills, the teams didn't get a lot of looks.”
Howard praised the way his team played without the puck.
“I thought we did a good job on their top guys. We didn't give them a lot of room and space. Another thing that was a positive was we didn't give up a lot of odd-man rushes,” Howard said. “That's been an Achilles' heel of late for us. We did a great job of keeping the third man high in the offensive zone, making them come 200 feet. We didn't turn pucks over. It's a good sign.”
Tampa Bay Lightning general manager, Team Canada Olympic GM and Red Wings Hall of Famer Steve Yzerman watched the game from the press box. He was likely impressed by the defensive play of anyone he is considering for the Canadian team. He and Detroit coach Mike Babcock, who is Team Canada's coach, and Red Wings GM Ken Holland — also on the Team Canada management team — certainly compared notes after the game.
“Every game I play, I try to play the way I want to,” Couture said. “I know the Olympic people are watching.”
All three Detroit skaters — Pavel Datsyuk, Daniel Alfredsson and Todd Bertuzzi — were unsuccessful in the shootout. Bertuzzi made a move and had Niemi down on the ice, but Niemi raised his right pad to knock away Bertuzzi's high shot.
San Jose's Patrick Marleau had his attempt stopped by Howard.
Detroit's Brendan Smith hit the outside of the goal post with 4:57 remaining in regulation.
The tight-checking contest opened up a bit during the middle of the second period with more room and chances for both teams. However, neither team could capitalize, as San Jose held Detroit to 11 shots over the first two periods.
Niemi made a big save on Alfredsson's shot from the bottom of the right circle 7:31 into the second period.
San Jose outshot Detroit 7-4 in a scoreless first period, in which the Red Wings killed off two penalties and the Sharks killed off one.
NOTE: After the game, the Sharks announced they acquired RW Mike Brown from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for a fourth-round section in the 2014 draft. … Detroit D Niklas Kronwall missed his second game with a mild concussion suffered Thursday night in Colorado. He was hurt on a hit from behind by Avalanche LW Cody McLeod, who was suspended for five games. Kronwall's defense partner, Jonathan Ericsson, also didn't play Monday because his wife went into labor Sunday night. D Xavier Ouellet was recalled from the Wings' AHL Grand Rapids affiliate. … San Jose recalled C Freddie Hamilton and C John McCarthy from its AHL Worcester affiliate. The Sharks also assigned F Matt Pelech to Worcester. … Red Wings G Jonas Gustavsson was selected the NHL's first star for last week. Gustavsson posted a 3-0-0 record with a 1.67 goals-against average and a .953 save percentage in three Detroit wins. Sharks LW Patrick Marleau was the league's third star with three goals and six points. … The game was the opener of a four-game Eastern road swing for San Jose.