It felt fitting to borrow a line from one of Detroit’s icons, Eminem, to succinctly sum up the end of that game. It was a frantic, chaotic, messy, and exciting end to a game that saw the Wings go up three goals early, give up a goal in each of the three periods to square it up, before Darren Helm caused the Joe Louis Arena’s top to blow.
Red Wings 4 Sharks 3
Series: Sharks lead 3-1
The Wings looked like they were perfectly willing and able to repeat the historical trend this series has followed so closely. In 2010, the Sharks jumped out to a 3-0 series lead, on three one goal wins, including a Game 3 4-3 overtime win, where they came back from down a goal in the third period to win it.
The first three games of this series proceeded in the exact same fashion. Three one goal wins. Game 3, 4-3 OT win after a third period comeback.
The silver lining for Wings fans was that last year, facing elimination at home, the Wings scored the most decisive win of the series, completely dominating the Sharks to the tune of a 7-1 win on the strength of a 6 point night from Johan Franzen.
The Wings were up 3-0 before San Jose had really generated a scoring chance, with goals coming from Todd Bertuzzi and Nicklas Lidstrom.
Todd Bertuzzi’s was a thing of swirling beauty. He crossed the blue with a head of steam, did a full spin-o-rama, then lifted a backhander over Niemi’s left shoulder and in.
Lidstrom then scored his third and fourth of the playoffs and it seemed like the Wings were going to cruise to an easy win. They were all over the Sharks in a way we had not seen all series. It was really something to see, the Sharks back on their heels, the Wings crashing the net hard digging for loose pucks. The score easily could have been 4 or 5 to nothing for the Wings.
But then, the Sharks found a little life. After Darren Helm softly gave the puck away inside the Wings blue line, Ryane Clowe flung a bad angle shot on net that Logan Couture got just enough of to redirect it through Howard’s pads. Instead of an insurmountable lead after one period, it was just a two goal game.
The Wings again dominated the Sharks in period two, although without the success they experienced in period one. After getting caught running around in their own end, Kyle Wellwood made an excellent pass across the top of the crease to Dan Boyle, who scored a very similar goal to the one that forced overtime in Game 3.
The Wings had every opportunity to extend their lead both before and after the Boyle goal, with three power play chances in the period. It was for naught, though, as the Shark penalty kill held strong.
To start the third period, the defense pairing of Niklas Kronwall and Ruslan Salei got caught running around, and no one picked up Dany Heatley in front of the net. Ryane Clowe fed him perfectly, and he had all day to rip a wrister past Howard. Tie score. Blood pressure up.
What followed was the exact reason that playoff hockey is the most enjoyable of any of the professional sports. In no other sport is there the constant, back and forth action, with players on both sides sacrificing for their teammates. The Wings penalty kill, which since Game 2 of the Phoenix series has been completely inept, stepped up with two huge kills.
Surrendering a goal there would have been a back breaker, and likely would have ended the series. Instead, they held firm and it was the fourth line of Justin Abdelkader, Patrick Eaves and Darren Helm that teamed up for the Wings final tally.
Brian Rafalski hammered a couple of pucks on net, before Patrick Eaves finally corralled the puck and swept it over to Darren Helm, who was remarkably wide open. Antti Niemi could only flail helplessly at the puck as it soared past him and the Joe erupted in a relieved frenzy.
The Sharks through everything they had at the Wings net for the next minute, with Niemi on the bench for an extra attacker, including a couple of rights by Ryane Clowe to the face of Justin Abdelkader as time was expiring. Both were awarded only double minors for roughing, so there will be no further disciplinary action taken by the league.
How they got to this point, at the end of the day, is irrelevant. What matters is that the Wings live to fight another day. They’re not quite finished yet. And as Eminem says at the end of that very same song…
Thanks for coming out…hope you enjoyed the show…until next time…peace!
Next time. 8 pm, Sunday. Be there, the Red Wings will.
The Off Wing View’s Three Stars
3. Darren Helm GWG
2. Ryane Clowe 3A, +3
1. Nicklas Lidstrom 2G, +2