Western Conference Semifinals, Game 5 (5/8/11)

The Red Wings were in San Jose tonight for game five with the Sharks. This was the second elimination game for the Wings in this series. The goalies were Howard and Niemi. Hudler was out tonight and Miller was in.

The first two periods, and the first minute of the third period, were almost entirely dominated by San Jose. The Red Wings were getting badly outworked, outshot and outscored. Jimmy Howard kept the game close with one spectacular save after another. Setoguchi scored a tip-in goal in the first period. Then Pavelski scored in the second with a wicked shot. The Wings answered shortly after that with a great goal by Kronwall to keep them within a goal.

In the first minute of the third period Couture scored and gave the Sharks the first two goal lead of the game. The Wings didn’t get discouraged but they did get going. Detroit went to work on the Sharks and you could almost feel the momentum shift.

It started with a goal by Ericsson who was deep in the slot and picked up a rebound to get the Wings back to within a goal. Then Cleary took the puck down below the net on a wrap-around and banged away at it near the post until he shoved it in and tied the game.

In the second half of the third period Lidstrom fired a shot that Holmstrom tipped in front of the net and deflected it by Niemi giving the Wings the lead for the first time in the game. Detroit killed off a penalty and managed to keep the Sharks from scoring for the rest of the game.

This was a game that Jimmy Howard stole for his team. The Sharks had this game all but won and the Wings came back and snatched it out from under them. It wouldn’t have even been close if not for the superb play of Howard. Datsyuk was excellent even though he’s playing hurt. Franzen was struggling and landed awkwardly on his ankle a few times. He sat through much of the second half of the game.

The Sharks’ early domination was mostly due to their incredible defensive play. Detroit couldn’t get anything going at all. San Jose was all over them and when Detroit did manage to get a shot off it was often blocked. I don’t know what changed but in the third period things started clicking for the Wings. I think maybe the Sharks backed off a little. Either they were getting tired or they were just playing more conservative defensively. Or maybe Detroit just stepped it up that much more. In any case it was a great come from behind win for the Wings. This forces game six on Tuesday in Detroit. Hope lives…let’s go Red Wings!

This 4-3 win brings this Western Conference Semifinal series to 2-3 San Jose.

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