Eric Stephens| NHL.com Correspondent
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Mike Babcock might have liked the scoring chances the Detroit Red Wings were getting in the Western Conference Semifinals, and he couldn't be critical of the number of shots his team had generated up in the first three games.
But that wasn't enough to satisfy the Red Wings’ coach, who stopped waiting to see if some of his top offensive players would find the net on their own. In Game 4, Babcock did something about it.
Babcock gave the Ducks a different look by putting Johan Franzen, Valtteri Filppula and Marian Hossa together. The new trio made Babcock look like a genius by combining for four goals in a 6-3 win Thursday night that evened the best-7 series at two victories apiece. Game 5 is Sunday evening in Detroit.
Franzen had two goals and an assist while Hossa scored his first two goals of the series, both coming late in the second period to break a 2-2 tie. Filppula added two assists to complete a seven-point night for the new line.
The Wings scored just seven times in the first three games despite outshooting Anaheim 145-93. Babcock sought to shake things up -- especially after Anaheim's Corey Perry scored off a turnover 42 seconds into the game.
"I’m not a big change guy," he said. "I like to be patient when things are going real good. I thought our team was playing fine in this series. I haven’t thought that we were playing poor but the puck wasn’t going in. And then the way we started tonight, I had to do something.
“I had to change something up. For whatever reason, we seemed to get a spark with the Filppula line. Hoss probably feels like the weight of the world is off his back, which is great for him.”
A key part in Babcock’s ability to make such a change is that Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg have often played together in the past, sometimes for months at a time. Zetterberg added an empty-net goal and Datsyuk went scoreless but their speed together meant for something different Anaheim had to focus on.
"Sometimes when things don’t go our way, a little shakeup doesn’t hurt," Hossa said.
"We found a way to score goals and create momentum. Johan Franzen was the key to this game, I believe, because he scored two quick ones and got our team going. That was huge."
After three games of watching his team build up steam as the periods clicked along, Babcock had implored his team to jump out early and not allow Anaheim to establish its style of play. Perry's goal spoiled that plan -- but it may have been just the wakeup call the Wings needed.
Franzen got the line started when he took a drop pass from Filppula on a rush into the Ducks’ zone and zipped a quick wrist shot past Anaheim goalie Jonas Hiller to tie the game. The burly left wing then delivered a big goal when he deflected in a point shot by Niklas Kronwall with 35.4 seconds left in the first for a 2-1 lead.
"We got our goals a little bit easier," Franzen said. "We had a high tempo and had guys in front. I had a lucky tip. We need stuff like that to break down that goalie. We did a great job with that tonight."
Big postseason goals are nothing new for Franzen, who first burst onto the scene during the 2008 playoffs when he followed a 27-goal regular season with 13 goals in 16 postseason games -- a franchise mark he shares with teammate Henrik Zetterberg -- despite missing six games with concussion-like symptoms.
"The Mule" has been a featured performer ever since. In his fourth NHL season, Franzen had a career-high 34 goals and 59 points. Now the 6-foot-3, 218-pound left wing is starring once again the playoff spotlight.
"I think he's figured out how to play in this League, and he knows how to use size to his advantage," Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "He’s a strong player. Strong in taking the puck to the net. Strong in the offensive zone. He’s tough to move.
"And he’s a gifted goal scorer. He’s got a knack for finding the back of the net."
The Red Wings still had to fend off Anaheim as Perry scored again to pull the Ducks even midway through the second. That’s when the hot line got Hossa going.
Filppula’s pressure in the offensive zone forced a turnover as Franzen got the puck to Hossa and the 40-goal scorer snapped a wrist shot past Hiller at 16:02. Just under three minutes later, Hossa delivered again, this time on the power play, as he whipped home a one-timer off a feed from Lidstrom.
"Our line created lots of chances," said Hossa, who's twice had two-goal games for his only postseason goals this year. "We just couldn’t squeeze in one. Tonight, two went in for me. That sometimes happens. We just have to be patient and fight through it. Good things happen."
Mikael Samuelsson ended the night for Hiller just 2:46 into the third period when he snapped in a wrist shot to the top right corner. It was the first off night for the Ducks’ netminder, who’s become a star in the postseason. Hiller made just 28 stops on 33 shots after consecutive wins in which he stopped 59 and 45 shots. He was lifted after Samuelsson's goal.
"They’ve got a good hockey club,” Ducks center Todd Marchant said. “That being said, we weren’t nearly good enough tonight and nowhere near the way we can play. And they capitalized. We made mistakes and they took advantage of it.”
In what proved to be the tiebreaking goal in the second period, the Red Wings simply outworked Anaheim in the corner of the Ducks’ zone. Valtteri Filppula and Johan Franzen teamed up along the boards to jar loose a puck that Franzen got back to Marian Hossa for a quick wrist shot that resulted in Hossa’s first goal of the series and a 3-2 lead.
Valtteri Filppula isn’t the first name mentioned when rattling off the Red Wings’ stars. Nor is he the second, third or fourth name. But the Finnish center had a great night with two assists while playing a role in three goals. Filppula drew two defenders in the first period and dropped a pass back to Franzen for Detroit’s first goal, then helped Franzen set up Hossa’s first goal along with assisting on the winger’s second tally.
Bobby Ryan didn’t get an assist on Corey Perry’s goal 42 seconds into the game, but the Ducks’ rookie power forward should have as he hustled back to the Anaheim zone and knocked a rushing Henrik Zetterberg off the puck. Chris Pronger picked it up and hit a wide-open Perry with a long pass as the Ducks caught the Red Wings on a line change.
How effective was the Johan Franzen-Valtteri Filppula-Marian Hossa line that Detroit coach Mike Babcock put together? Seven points in all is a pretty strong night. Franzen finished with two goals and an assist, Hossa had two consecutive goals that broke a second-period tie and Filppula wound up with two assists and a plus-2 rating.
Johan Franzen’s second goal late in the first period gave Detroit its first lead since the opening period of Game 2, when Brad Stuart scored to give the Red Wings a 1-0 lead. … Anaheim cost itself two power plays in the second period when Francois Beauchemin had to take a hooking penalty to stop Zetterberg from going to the net following a too-many-men penalty to Detroit and Perry was later nabbed for tripping just six seconds after Filppula went off for slashing.
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