Western Conference Semifinals, Game 5 (5/8/10)

Tonight it was the second do or die game for the Red Wings in this series against the Sharks. After the pummeling delivered by the Wings in game four the Sharks were expected to show some serious push back. The starting goalies were Nabokov and Howard. Brad Stuart was a game time decision. Luckily he was able to go so he was in the lineup tonight after taking a hard hip check from Blake and missing most of game four. Lebda was also in the lineup tonight as an extra defenseman.

The first period was mostly all San Jose. They applied a ton of offensive pressure. The shots were 15 to 6 in favor of the Sharks. Jimmy Howard was superb however and the Wings weathered the storm. The bounces were going the Red Wings’ way as there were several chances where the Sharks missed the net or had the puck jump over their sticks. The penalties were going against Detroit though. There were only two penalties in the first period and both went against Franzen. The second one still had 27 seconds which carried over to the second period. I think the Red Wings were pretty happy just to have escaped the first period without giving up a goal.

The Wings killed off the rest of the penalty to start the second period. Then they started to generate a little offense of their own. Rafalski shot from the point with Bertuzzi screening Nabokov. The puck hit the post and went in. So although San Jose had played better to that point, the Wings had the lead. The can be very demoralizing for the other team.

Than a few minutes later Stuart was called for elbowing. Demers shot from the point and the rebound came to Thornton who popped it home for the game tying goal.

The rest of the second period was pretty much all Red Wings. Detroit had more power plays in the second period and were able to pull even and then take the lead in shots on goal. There were a few sequences where they came extremely close to scoring. They were getting lots of traffic in front. In spite of the heavy effort level though, the tie held to the end of the second period.

In the third period Pavelski had a breakaway against Kronwall who missed the puck and then got turned around. He hooked him to prevent the scoring chance and Pavelski was awarded a penalty shot. He came to the net with speed and missed high over the crossbar on Howard’s glove side.

Later in the period Franzen was hit in the head by Murray and leveled. He was down for a while but most of it took place during a TV timeout. There was no penalty on the play. After the TV timeout the Wings had the faceoff in their own end. Rafalski ended up with the puck behind the net. Heatley pressured him enough to free the puck and it went to Thornton. He passed to Marleau in front who quickly shot and scored to break the tie.

A few minutes later Stuart laid a big hit on Murray from his blindside and stunned him pretty good. At least he was paid back for the hit on Franzen.

The Red Wings stepped it up even more. The hitting was ferocious and there were many dangerous scoring chances. They pulled the goalie with a little over a minute and a half left. Then with about 50 seconds left Boyle was called for holding so the Wings had a 6 on 4 for the rest of the game. It was a valiant effort but the Red Wings were not able to tie the game and Sharks clinched the series.

The Wings played a great road game tonight but it just wasn’t enough. They started out on their heels in the first period but they weathered that storm and then took over in the second and third. This was an extremely close series. Every Sharks win was very close.

So ends this season for the Red Wings. They faced a ton of adversity this season and in the end I think they emerged even better.

Probably the best thing to come out of this season was the blossoming of Jimmy Howard. He already played like a veteran and now he has playoff experience as well. He knows what it takes to win in the playoffs and he’s experienced losing. I have very high hopes for the future with him in net.

This 1-2 loss finishes this Western Conference Semifinal series at 1-4 San Jose.

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