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Breakdown: Game 6 vs. Sharks

by Staff Writer / Detroit Red Wings

By Michael Caples |

For a few minutes in the third period, it looked like a dominant first two periods would go to waste for the Red Wings.

Then, Valtteri Filppula took over.

The Wings’ forward from Vantaa, Finland initiated the play that eventually ended with a tip-in goal for Henrik Zetterberg to tie the game at one. Then, less than two minutes later, he fired in a pass from Pavel Datsyuk to give the Wings their first lead of the night.

Darren Helm added an empty-net goal for Detroit, who managed to win their third straight game and force a Game 7 in San Jose Thursday night.

Jimmy Howard stopped 24 shots for the Wings, while San Jose’s Antti Niemi made 42 saves at the other end. It took the Wings two periods to finally crack the San Jose netminder, who stopped 18 in the first period, and 14 in the second.

The Wings and the Sharks will now meet one more time in San Jose, for a series-deciding Game 7. Puck drops at 9 p.m. EDT. The winner advances to face the Vancouver Canucks in the Western Conference finals.

With the Wings desperate for a goal in the third period, Valtteri Filppula skated into the San Jose end, and slammed on the brakes inside the right face-off circle. The Wings’ forward then passed backwards to Niklas Kronwall, who fired the puck towards the San Jose goal. Henrik Zetterberg reached his stick out, and tipped the shot just enough to get it past goaltender Antti Niemi. The goal tied the game, and put the momentum back on the Wings’ side for the rest of the third period.

45 Total shots by the Red Wings. San Jose had 25
18 Shots by the Wings in the first period. San Jose had 6.
6 Shots by Dan Cleary, most by any player in Game 6.
30 Hits by the Wings, with the Sharks recording 27.
17 Blocked shots by the Wings. San Jose had 12.

Pavel Datsyuk
G A P +/- Shots
0 1 1 +2 3

Antti Niemi
44 42 2 58:42 .954

Valtteri Filppula
G A P +/- Shots
1 1 2 +1 3

Antti Niemi
44 42 2 58:42 .954

Jimmy Howard
25 24 1 60:00 .960

Joe Pavelski - C

24:11 - T0I, -1 rating

Nicklas Lidstrom - D

21:29 - T0I, +1 rating

Less than two minutes after the Zetterberg goal, Valtteri Filppula created a turnover in the neutral zone, and sent the puck over to Pavel Datysuk. Datsyuk skated into the San Jose zone, and looked around for a pass, eventually finding his target in Filppula, who was cutting towards the San Jose net. Datsyuk sent a saucer pass over outstretched sticks towards Filppula, who was able to send a one-timer past Niemi and put the Wings in the driver’s seat. It was the game-winning goal for the Wings, and it was created by Filppula’s determination, and Datsyuk’s gifted puck skills.

Valtteri Filppula had not recorded a single point in the second round heading into Game 6. On Tuesday night, he recorded two of the biggest points of his career. He set up the first goal, and scored the game-winner 1:54 later to help the Wings come from behind once again. Filppula skated for 18:02, finished plus-1, and had three shots to go with his two crucial points.

Injury rumors continue to follow Pavel Datsyuk during this second-round series, and he continues to dominate play. While he didn’t have the three assists he had in Game 5, Datsyuk still set up the game-winner, as described above. During his 19:25 worth of ice-time, he also recorded three shots, three hits, three takeaways, and two face-off wins out of four attempts.

Four minutes into Game 6, San Jose’s Douglas Murray set the tone for a physical contest. Dan Cleary was moving around the San Jose end with the puck, and saw Murray coming his way. Cleary tried to spin out of the impending hit, which meant that Murray smashed into Cleary’s numbers and sent him sprawling to the ice. Cleary seemed to be shaken up from the hit, but he didn’t miss any game action.

The Wings dominated the shots battle in Game 6, ending with 45 shots on goal. San Jose was only able to counter with 25. Detroit controlled the play in the opening period, outshooting the Sharks 18-6. In the second period, the Wings continued to let the shots fly, recording 14 to San Jose’s 7. However, in the third, the Wings topped the Sharks by a single shot, ending the period at 13-12.

“I thought he was excellent. He’s a guy we need more from, and he really stepped up tonight. He made some good plays. I thought on the goal, he kicked it out to Datsyuk then drove to the far post, I thought it was a great play by him. He was an important guy for us. He hadn’t scored in the series, and he probably feels great about himself, which is great as we prepare for Game 7.”

- Mike Babcock on Valtteri Filppula's play in Game 6.

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