Western Conference Semifinals, Game 4 (5/6/11)

The Red Wings and the Sharks played the fourth game of their series tonight with the Wings facing elimination for the first of (hopefully) four times. The goalies were Howard and Niemi. Babcock went with the same lineup as game two so Draper was in and Miller was out.

The Red Wings knew how desperate their situation was tonight but they showed no sign of panic. Both teams are very professional and have a lot of playoff experience, so I don’t think you’ll see any signs of either team being rattled. The Wings came out and played a very determined and grinding type of game. There were momentum swings but I thought Detroit was the better team for most of the night. They outshot the Sharks in each of the three periods and ended up with 40 total shots to the Sharks’ 28.

The Red Wings jumped out to the early lead scoring three goals in a row in the first period. Bertuzzi scored first with a beautiful wrist shot. Then Lidstrom scored with a great slap shot. Those were both even strength goals. Then Lidstrom scored a power play goal by knocking the puck out of the air and one hopping it into the net. Just fifteen seconds after their third goal the Sharks answered with a tip in goal by Couture. That took a little wind out of the Red Wings’ sails. They went to the dressing room up three to one after the first period.

Dan Boyle scored in the second period and then Heatley scored early in the third and tied the game. The third period was a grind with the Red Wings attacking the Sharks almost the entire time. Finally, with about a minute and a half left in the game, Helm and Eaves teamed up for a great goal that Helm scored with a wrist shot. It was the culmination of a lot of hard work at a point in the game where it was essentially sudden death. The Wings hung on to that one goal lead and won the game three to four.

So step one of the comeback is complete. The Red Wings have survived the first elimination game. Now they just have to do the same thing three more times, including two times in San Jose. They stand a better chance than most teams that have been down three games to none throughout history because of the fact that they are evenly matched with their opponent. Usually when a team loses the first three games it’s because the other team is much better. That’s not so in this case. These teams are very close. All the lucky bounces went the Sharks’ way in the first three games. Hopefully, that’ll even out before the end of the series. So far, so good in game four.

This 3-4 win brings this Western Conference Semifinal series to 1-3 San Jose.

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