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Breakdown: Game 4 vs. Sharks

by Staff Writer / Detroit Red Wings

By Michael Caples |

For the first time in two years, the Wings won a playoff game against the San Jose Sharks that was decided by one goal.

After dropping the first three games 2-1, 2-1, and 4-3, respectively, Darren Helm scored with 1:27 remaining in regulation to give the Wings a 4-3 win. The victory forces a Game 5, which means the Wings will be heading to San Jose for a game on Sunday night.

Jimmy Howard picked up his first win of the second round by stopping 25 shots. The Wings’ goaltender stopped 11 shots in the third period to keep his team within striking distance after Dany Heatley tied it 1:14 into the final frame.

Todd Bertuzzi opened the scoring with a backhander from the top of the circle after a spin-o-rama to create space between him and the Sharks’ defenders. Nicklas Lidstrom added two more goals in the first period.

The Wings will try to stretch the series and guarantee another home game at Joe Louis Arena when puck drops at 8 p.m. EDT in San Jose on Sunday.

The Sharks had erased a three-goal lead, and the momentum seemed to be in their favorite in the final stages of Game 5. However, an impromptu line of Darren Helm, Patrick Eaves, and Justin Abdelkader assembled by Mike Babcock put the Wings back in the lead. After battling for the puck along the boards, the Wings got possession, and Eaves found Helm with a cross-ice pass through the slot. Helm was able to fire it into the back of the net before goaltender Antti Niemi could get into position, and the Wings regained the lead for good.

5 Combined points by the Henrik Zetterberg, Dan Cleary and Todd Bertuzzi line.
29 Hits by the Wings. San Jose had 17.
12 Blocked shots by the Sharks, with the Wings recording 7.
5 Hits by Justin Abdelkader, leading both teams.
52 Percent of the face-offs won by the Wings, which marks the first game they have won the face-off battle in the series.

Nicklas Lidstrom
G A P +/- Shots
2 0 2 +2 6

Ryane Clowe
G A P +/- Shots
0 3 3 +3 4

Todd Bertuzzi
G A P +/- Shots
1 1 2 +2 5

Antti Niemi
40 36 4 58:41 .900

Jimmy Howard
28 25 3 59:58 .892

Dan Boyle - D

23:32 - T0I, -1 rating

Niklas Kronwall - D

24:04 - T0I, -1 rating

The Wings scored two highlight-reel goals in the first period. Todd Bertuzzi gave Detroit a momentum boost with the opening goal, scoring his second goal of the postseason after an impressive spin-o-rama just inside the Sharks’ end. Bertuzzi then fired a backhander past Antti Niemi from the top of the circle. Twelve minutes later, captain Nicklas Lidstrom knocked a bouncing puck down with his skate, then swatted it out of midair to score his second goal of the night. Both goals had the Joe Louis Arena crowd ecstatic.

Nicklas Lidstrom played outstanding for the Wings Friday night. The Wings’ captain had two goals, six shots, three hits, and a plus-2 rating. Along with his highlight-reel goal, Lidstrom scored on a rocket from the slot after Niemi left a big rebound. The Norris Trophy nominee played well at both ends of the ice, accumulating 22:42 worth of ice-time - including 6:01 on the power play. He was named first star of the night.

Darren Helm was his usual self Friday night. The Wings’ quick-footed forward used his speed to cause problems on the forecheck in the Sharks’ end, which created plenty of turnovers for the Wings. And while his game-winner should put him closer to the ‘Hockeytown Hero’ category, Helm and his teammates earned the game-winner through hard work and determination along the boards in the San Jose end.

In the second period, Kris Draper was able to tackle San Jose captain Thornton along the boards inside the Wings’ end just away from the San Jose bench - without getting a penalty.  Draper stayed on top of Thornton for an extended period of time, which caused a discussion after the whistle. No penalties were assessed, and Draper kept Thornton away from a scoring chance while the Sharks were pressuring.

The Wings won the shots battle in all three periods of Game 4. It was the first time in the series that the Wings were able to out-shoot the Sharks in all three frames, and they were able to wear on the Sharks’ goaltender and pick up a crucial win to force a Game 5.

“Well I thought it was a real good job by you guys talking about retirement yesterday. I thought he answered that bell pretty good.”

- Mike Babcock suggesting that the media questioning Nicklas Lidstrom's age motivated the Wings' captain to have his two-goal night in Game 4.

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