DETROIT -- All those goals the Sharks have been scoring this season suddenly were in short supply Monday night.
But San Jose still managed to skate out of Joe Louis Arena with a 1-0 shootout victory over the Detroit Red Wings on a well-thought-out shot by Logan Couture, and the NHL's best record improved to 8-0-1.
While the game lacked the emotion and high-skill displays of most meetings between San Jose and Detroit, players and coaches described it as a playoff-style performance between teams that know each other maybe a little too well.
"Similar systems," Couture said. "It was good to get in a tighter game than we've had before. It was good to come out on top."
The Sharks came out on top because
Couture remembered that he had gone to his backhand in a previous shootout against Howard, faking it this time to freeze the goalie. Then Couture came back with the quick snap shot.
"I was able to get it just above the pad," he said.
San Jose had been averaging 4.9 goals per game -- a full goal more than any other NHL team -- and had scored no fewer than three on any night. The Sharks outshot Detroit 27-24 but had nothing to show for it through 65 minutes.
"Not much space out there, it was playofflike, if you will," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "Both teams played a prevent type game. It was a chess match, no doubt about it."
Both teams were at far from full strength for what will be one of only two meetings between San Jose and Detroit this season.
The Shark unexpectedly sidelined was Brent Burns, who sat this one out after his already damaged mouth took another hit in Saturday night's win over the Calgary Flames. McLellan said he was hopeful Burns would be ready to go Thursday night when San Jose faces the Boston Bruins.
The Sharks did miss Burns' "create chaos" presence, but his absence gave prospect Freddie Hamilton a chance to play in his first NHL game.
Each team also had its top defenseman missing as a result of illegal hits. Dan Boyle, who was placed on injured reserve late Monday, did not make the trip from San Jose, and Red Wings blue-liner Niklas Kronwall is considered day-to-day.
What coaches praise as tight, defensive hockey can also go by another name to spectators: boring. And for the first 40 minutes, neither team was able to sustain much offense.
The pace did pick up in the third period with Detroit applying more pressure. And San Jose's penalty kill came up strong when James Sheppard was sent off for interference at 15:03 and the game on the line.
Couture and Scott Hannan each blocked shots, and Tommy Wingels, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Joe Pavelski all broke up plays with their sticks.
"It was big," McLellan said of the penalty kill. "I thought Vlasic had a really good stick on a clearing attempt to break up a sure goal. That was probably the key moment."
Brown, 28, has earned a reputation for his gritty play and willingness to drop the gloves in 289 NHL games with the Vancouver Canucks, Anaheim Ducks, Toronto Maple Leafs and Oilers.
Sharks general manager Doug Wilson stopped short of saying Brown was added to protect younger players but did note that Brown was considered a middleweight among NHL tough guys -- a vacancy on the roster at this point.
"This guy can skate, and he fits exactly how we want to play," Wilson added.
Sharks (8-0-1) at Boston (5-2-0), 4 p.m., CSNCA