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Can Hossa continue Game 4 streak?

by Michael Caples / Detroit Red Wings
If history is any indication, Marian Hossa should have a breakout performance in Game 4 tonight.  In fact, you can go as far as saying he will score two goals, leading the Wings to a pivotal win.

That’s because Hossa seems to love scoring in Game 4.  In the fourth game of every series in the 2009 NHL playoffs, Hossa has scored a pair of goals.  It’s the only time he’s found the back of the net in the postseason.  No goals in the first three games of the series, and no goals after Game 4.

Not many of the players are aware of Hossa’s strange consistency.  When Kris Draper was informed, a huge grin broke out beneath his playoff beard.  The Wings’ center, who will play in Game 4, said he wouldn’t mind it happening again.

“Love it!” Draper said. “I’ll take that, I didn’t know that, and certainly we all would welcome that in this dressing room.”

Hossa picked an important situation to score his six goals this season.  In each round, the Wings’ forward has had clutch performances when his team needed it most.

In the Columbus series, Hossa recorded back-to-back goals in the second period, pushing the Wings to a 5-3 lead.  On his first goal, Hossa took a pass from Niklas Kronwall in the slot, and fired a shot towards goaltender Steve Mason.  His first shot didn’t get through, but Hossa found his own rebound to score his first goal of the postseason.  On his second, Hossa received a great backhand pass from Tomas Holmstrom behind the goal, and he one-timed it into the net from just above Mason’s crease.

The Wings ended up needing a goal from Franzen to win in the final minute of regulation.  But Hossa’s performance put them in the driver’s seat as they swept the Blue Jackets in the opening round.

In the Anaheim series, the Wings’ forward had back-to-back goals in the second period, once again.  His third goal of the postseason came on a snap shot from the slot that beat goaltender Jonas Hiller.  His fourth came after he played give-and-go with captain Nicklas Lidstrom at the point, then whipped a wrist shot past Hiller from above the circles.

Hossa was a key contributor in a lopsided 6-3 win for the Wings, which tied the series at two.  The Wings went on to win the series in a dramatic Game 7 at Joe Louis Arena.

He didn’t have back-to-back goals in one period in the Chicago series, but Hossa still scored twice - once again.  Hossa scored the game’s opening goal, a shorthanded tally off a saucer pass from Valtteri Filppula.  In the second period, he took the puck at the blue line, and charged the goal like a bull.  He shrugged off Kris Versteeg, cut to the center of the ice, and fired a wrister past goaltender Cristobal Huet.  The goal killed a comeback attempt by the Blackhawks, who had scored to make it 3-1 just 12 seconds before.

The Wings ran away with that Game 4, picking up a 6-1 win and a 3-1 lead in the series.  They wrapped up a return trip to the Stanley Cup finals the next game in Detroit.

Now Hossa will look to repeat his prior Game 4 performances against his former team.  The Mellon Arena crowd wasn’t very friendly to the former Penguin, booing him every time he touched the puck in Game 3. 

“You know, Hos, he played hard last game, there’s no doubt,” Draper said.  “Every time he touched the puck, you knew it was going to be tough on him.  But he showed a lot of character by the way that he played, and he’s going to continue to compete at a high level for us.”

Defenseman Brett Lebda said that Hossa has been getting chances all series, and that the puck is bound to find the back of the net.

“He’s been playing really well,” Lebda said.  “He’s been a force out there, and it hasn’t been going in for him.  Hopefully for us he’ll get some breaks here and put some points up on the board for us.

Members of the Penguins, however, don’t seem to be aware of Hossa’s streak.

“I didn’t even know that,” forward Chris Kunitz.  “Wouldn’t even recognize that, but he’s a great player.”

Kunitz did say that the Penguins be keeping an eye on Hossa, as usual.

“He’s got a great shot, he shoots the puck, and he’s bound to put pucks towards the net,” he said.  “I think we’ve done a great job of getting stick on pucks.  He has that great skill move, coming around the circles and getting a shot on net, so it’s something we’ve gotta be aware of.”

Hossa didn’t talk to the media after the morning skate, but Lidstrom summed up what Hossa would have said – it’s all about getting the win, not about Hossa scoring twice.

“That would be great to see, but we just want to win tonight.”  
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