Western Conference Semifinals, Game 4 (5/6/10)

It was do or die for the Red Wings tonight. They faced the Sharks at Joe Louis Arena down three games to none. Lebda was out of the lineup tonight and Lilja was back in. Also, Jason Williams was out and Ritola was in. The goalies were Howard and Nabokov. Babcock also did some line juggling for this game. Datsyuk was on a line with Filppula and Holmstrom, and the second line was Franzen, Zetterberg and Bertuzzi.

In the first minute of the game Detroit was called for too many men on the ice. Luckily the Red Wings were able to kill it off.

Then Brad Stuart took a hit from Rob Blake. It was a hip check that caught him right in the thigh. He left the ice right afterwards and then left the bench.

A few minutes later the Red Wings had their own power play when Helminen tripped up Lidstrom. The Sharks almost killed it off but with just a couple of seconds left Zetterberg passed the puck to Franzen with Bertuzzi in front of the net. Franzen shot it and it hit Bertuzzi’s leg and went in. That gave the Red Wings the all important first goal and the early lead in the game.

Later in the first, Zetterberg passed it Franzen in front of the net. It was in tight and it hit Franzen’s skates. The puck bounced behind him and he quickly turned around and shot it. Nabokov had no chance, the net was wide open. That made it two nothing Red Wings. The Sharks thought there should have been goalie interference called because there was contact between Franzen and Nabokov. I’m actually surprised they didn’t call it. Nabokov was outside the crease but Franzen did bump into him. It wasn’t a hit though, he just brushed into him.

Just past the halfway point of the first period Bertuzzi had the puck in the zone and waited for Franzen to catch up. He dished it behind him to Franzen who ripped one that beat Nabokov cleanly for a top shelf goal over the glove. That made it three to nothing Red Wings very early in the game. The fans threw hats because the first goal was awarded to Franzen on the ice but it was clear that it hit Bertuzzi so Franzen really only had two.

Just a few seconds later Franzen took another shot but Nabokov stopped it. The rebound came back to him and he shot again and once again scored! So the hats were justified after all and Franzen bagged the rare natural hat trick which is three consecutive goals by one player. That made it four to nothing Wings and there was still over nine minutes left in the first period.

Mickey Redmond said before the game that Franzen needed to step it up. I guess he got his wish!

As the end of the period was approaching Filppula and Holmstrom were in the corner in the Sharks’ end battling for the puck. Dan Boyle tried to backhand the puck to Murray in front of his own net. Instead it bounced off Murray and went toward Nabokov. It hit him and bounced into the net making it five to nothing. That was some seriously bad luck for Dan Boyle who put the puck in his own net during the previous series against Colorado, although that one was also redirected. Filppula got credit for the goal since he was the last Red Wings to touch it.

At the start of the second period they announced that the first goal was officially changed to Bertuzzi and also that Franzen had broken the Red Wings’ record for most points in a period with four. Also, Nabokov was given the rest of the night off and McClellan put in Thomas Greiss.

Early in the second period the Red Wings had a power after Helminen was called for tripping. Rafalski made a nice play to start the rush and passed ahead to Bertuzzi then went up towards the wing. Bertuzzi passed it back to him and he one timed it into the net to make it six nothing. Greiss got a piece of it but not enough to stop it.

Later in the second San Jose had a 5 on 3 power play after Kronwall was called for interference and Lidstrom was called for hooking. Heatley wound up and ripped one by Howard to get the Sharks on the board and then still had over 1:40 of power play time left. The Wings killed off the rest of the power play.

In the third period things got a little ugly. Thornton dumped Holmstrom after the whistle and Franzen came in to defend him. There were a few punches thrown between Thornton and Holmstrom and they both went to the box.

Later, on the power play Lidstrom shot and broke Bertuzzi’s stick as he tried to deflect it. The puck bounced to Franzen who scored again. That was his fourth goal and sixth point which set the Red Wings’ record for most points in a playoff game and tied him with Crosby as the points leader of this playoff season.

Throughout the rest of the third period there were tons of penalties as things got a little chippy. Three game misconducts were handed out to the Sharks and there were a few fighting majors as well.

The final score was seven to one. It doesn’t get much better than that.

The Red Wings were incredible in this game. Led by Franzen, along with Bertuzzi and Zetterberg, and with their backs to the wall, the Wings came through with one of the best games I’ve ever seen them play.

Now they just have to do it three more times. After the way they played tonight it doesn’t seem so farfetched.

This 1-7 win brings this Western Conference Semifinal series to 1-3 San Jose.

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