That changed however, as the Red Wings forward had two points in a 1:16 span to help make the Western Conference semifinal series a real series now.
Filppula assisted on the Wings’ first goal, which tied the score at 1. Moments later he stole a pass in the neutral zone from the Sharks’ Logan Couture and headed for the offensive zone.
“I thought he was excellent,” said Wings coach Mike Babcock, referring to Filppula. “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 (Pavel) 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.”
Trailing 1-0 late, Filppula skated into Sharks’ zone, spun around, and dished the puck off to Niklas Kronwall
, setting up the Wings’ first goal of the game and allowing the Wings to tie the Sharks after an intense, extremely physical two-period battle.
A shift later, Filppula stole a pass from Couture, and feathered a pass to Datsyuk and then cut toward the net. Datsyuk then sent a cross-ice pass to Filppula, who batted a bouncing puck past goalie Antti Niemi.
“I thought Fil had probably his best game of the series so far,” Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom
. “The way he skated with the puck, how hard he worked defensively. And it was great to see him get rewarded by getting two points out there tonight.”
Despite tallying five points in the Phoenix series, Filppula had been held in check by an aggressive Sharks’ defense. Fortunately, Filppula picked the perfect time to find the boxscore. The Wings were in desperate need for a goal after finding themselves down 1-0 after a puck tauntingly danced through the legs of goalie Jimmy Howard
early in the third period.
And Filppula’s game-winning goal to put Detroit ahead for the first time in the game at 12:32 in the third nearly deflated a surging Sharks’ team that had been outplayed for the first two periods.
Even if Filppula was the Game 6 hero, for the man himself, it just boils down to wins and losses.
“I just feel good that we won,” Filppula said. “That’s the main thing. During these games, every game we’ve been winning, it doesn’t really matter who gets the goals. But I’m always happy to help the team so that’s a good thing.”
That’s a good thing, indeed.
With Filppula’s game-winning goal, the Wings forced a Game 7 after being down 0-3 in the series. Detroit will look to be the fourth team in NHL history to come back from a three-game deficit Thursday night in San Jose.