With their backs against the wall the Wings managed to extend their series with the Sharks to a game 5 back in San Jose on Sunday. It was almost dejavu all over again; the Wings jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead and it looked like it may be a repeat of last years game 4 but San Jose pushed back making a game of it with the Wings prevailing 4-3. This series has been fast paced and entertaining that’s for sure as all four games have been decided by a single goal.
The first period belonged to Detroit and Nicklas Lidstrom; they carried the pace and managed to find the back of the net 3 times on 17 first period shots. Todd Berttuzi got the scoring started as he did his best Denis Savard impression and then fired a backhand over the shoulder of Niemi. After further reviewing the play it was clear that Dan Cleary had entered the zone before Bertuzzi so the goal should not have counted and I can’t imagine the Sharks bench was impressed as they had a front row seat for the missed call. No more than 5 minutes later Niemi kicked a long rebound out to the high slot and Nicklas Lidstrom fired home a slap shot over Niemi to make it a 2-0 lead for the Red Wings.
With already one goal to his credit Lidstrom decided to give hometown fans one more look at his incredible talent as he increased the lead to 3 for the Wings on a PP goal with less than 2 minutes left in the first. Lidstrom streaking in from the point received the pass from Zetterberg on his foot and when the puck bounced on him he managed to rifle a knee high puck to the top corner. However just 13 seconds later Ryan Clowe threw an innocent looking puck towards the net which was tipped by Logan Coture as he drove the net and it sneaked by Howard giving the Sharks some life.
With 4 goals in the first the second period produced only 1 goal as the Sharks managed to cut their defecit in half as Dan Boyle sneaking in from the point again found the top of the net and beat a sprawling Howard on a goal that was almost identical to his game 3 snipe.
Detroit’s lead officially vanished only 1 minute into the third as Dany Heatley was left all alone in front of Howard and Clowe managed to find him for his third assist of the game. The game remained tied for the next 16 minutes with both teams missing on opportunities to jump ahead. That was until Darren Helm, with only 1:30 left on the clock found open space on a scrambled play and after receiving a pass from Patrick Eaves he found the back of the net with a beauty of a wrist shot.
While the Wings managed to draw their first blood of the series they will need a lot more of what they managed to produce during an entertaining game 4; and if they do manage to open up a big lead in game 5 they should focus on doing a much better job of protecting that lead.
About the Author
Written by Kirk Butler
Born and raised in Murray Harbour - PEI. Like many Canadians hockey is my religion; as a kid I had the pleasure of playing my minor hockey with Conn Smythe winner Brad Richards of the 2004 Stanley Cup winning Tampa Bay Lightning. I played competitive hockey until the age of 21 which included stops in the American Prep School System, Canadian Junior Hockey and the CIS. I now get my competitive fix on the golf course as a scratch golfer. More to come: Kirk Butler PEI, Canada