Conference Semifinals – Day 11

Detroit vs. San Jose – In a series that is looking all too familiar to Detroit fans, San Jose jumped out to 3-0 series lead. Just like last year, the Red Wings battled hard and managed to steal game four. But unlike last year, where San Jose went on to win in five games, Detroit was still battling hard last night and earned another win with a hard fought third period.

Throughout the first period, the Sharks dominated play. Jimmy Howard was good, stopping everything that came his way early on. With about five and a half minutes to play in the opening period, the Wings had the best chance to grab an early lead. After a long rebound kicked out to a wide open Jonathan Ericsson, Antti Niemi slid across the crease and made a ridiculous glove save. The great save gave the Sharks another swing of momentum and a few minutes later Devin Setoguchi scored another goal with his Easton Stealth RS on a tip in front of Jimmy Howard. San Jose would head into the first intermission with a 1-0 advantage.

San Jose continued to control play in the second. Early on, with the man advantage, Jimmy Howard continued to put his skills on display as he made another series of great saves. Late in the second, at 15:32, the pressure would be too much as Joe Pavelski tipped in a perfect pass Ryane Clowe on the two-on-one. Less than a minute later, though, Pavel Datsyuk would find a streaking Niklas Kronwall who fired a hard wrist shot past Niemi to bring the Wings within one. To close things out in the second, Kronwall added another big hit to his resume, this time on Ryane Clowe. His goal and big hit really helped send the Wings into the locker room with a big push, despite trailing 2-1.

Less than a minute into the third, it looked like hope would be lost as Logan Couture broke in behind the Wings defense and beat Jimmy Howard on the breakaway. The Wings wouldn’t be done just yet though. Less than three minutes later it was Jonathan Ericsson who, this time, would beat Niemi. Just two minutes later, Danny Cleary would find a way to push the puck in from behind the goal line for his first of the playoffs, knotting the game up at three.

With just over six minutes to play, Pavel Datsyuk turned it on and showed why he is one of the best. Datsyuk shrugged off San Jose defenders, and found a wide open Nicklas Lidstrom who ripped a slapshot on goal. As usual, Tomas Holmstrom was parked right in Niemi’s face, and managed to tip the puck into the back of the net. The effort by Datsyuk, who finished the night with three assists, was truly remarkable. Following the Holmstrom goal, Detroit managed to shut down San Jose in the remaining six minutes and hang on for a crucial victory. They now trail San Jose 3-2 in the series, but must still win games six and seven to overcome the 3-0 deficit.

You have to give Pavel Datsyuk a lot of credit in tonight’s win. He was said to be skating with an injured wrist, and still managed to pick up three assists. Datsyuk, however, did not take a single face-off in the victory. He now leads all scorers in the playoffs with 13 points (3 goals and 10 assists), despite playing the fewest amount of games at nine.

Johan Franzen was also limited in playing time during game five. In fact, he missed the entire third period, along with some of the second. Franzen saw just over nine minutes of ice time in the contest, but has been ineffective in this series as he skates on a bad ankle. I think we’re likely to see Franzen miss game six of the series, and could be replaced by Mike Modano.

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