for this game

Red Wings win three straight, force Game 7

May 11, 2011 - 4:26 AM
Detroit, MI (Sports Network) - For the second time in as many rounds, a team is in danger of wasting a 3-0 series advantage.

Valtteri Filppula notched the game-winning score in the third period as the Detroit Red Wings took their third straight contest with a 3-1 victory over San Jose in Game 6 of this Western Conference semifinal from Joe Louis Arena.

"To be honest, I didn't think we should have been down 0-3, we could have won them all, but so could they," Detroit head coach Mike Babcock said. "That's how tight this has been."

Henrik Zetterberg and Darren Helm also scored for the Red Wings, who have followed the blueprint of the Chicago Blackhawks in the opening round against Vancouver, by losing the first three games in the series before forcing a terminal contest.

Jimmy Howard made 24 saves for the victory.

Logan Couture tallied for the Sharks, who hope to avoid the fate of the 1942 Red Wings, 1975 Penguins and last year's Bruins as the only clubs in NHL history to drop a best-of-seven set after winning three straight to open.

Antti Niemi played well in defeat, stopping 42-of-44 shots.

A deciding Game 7 shifts back to San Jose on Thursday. The winner will take on the Canucks in the conference finals beginning Sunday.

"Just ask Detroit. They lost three in a row and their confidence wasn't frayed," San Jose captain Joe Thornton said when asked if his team's confidence took a hit after failing in three straight chances to close out the series. "We're a confident group, still. You work 82 games to get home ice in these Game 7s. Now we just have to make it work."

Niemi stacked the pads at the left post to deny a deflected shot from Zetterberg with just over eight minutes played in the final period and keep the visitors up 1-0, but Niklas Kronwall ripped a shot from the right circle that Zetterberg deflected under the crossbar with 9:22 remaining.

Filppula then put the Wings ahead less than two minutes later, tipping in a feed from Pavel Datsyuk on the left side.

The home team killed off a holding penalty to Justin Abdelkader as the clock ticked down inside seven minutes to play, and the Sharks pulled their netminder with 90 seconds to go, but Helm added an insurance empty-net tally with over a minute remaining.

"One of the things we're fortunate to have is the leadership of the guys who are older," Kronwall noted. "They have been around a while. There's no panic at any time. We just stuck to the game plan for 60 minutes. That's the only way you can do it. If you don't believe, then you're done."

Despite an 18-6 shot advantage, the Red Wings failed to dent Niemi in the first period. Detroit endured more bad luck in the second period.

Danny Cleary misfired, hitting the post with Niemi down in his crease, during a short-handed breakaway a little over six minutes in.

Tomas Holmstrom missed a chance at an open net on the early stages of a power play in the waning moments of the middle period.

San Jose broke the scoreless deadlock at 3:54 of the third period. Howard was able to handle a Dany Heatley shot, but the rebound came out to Couture, whose quick rebound chance from the right side squeaked through the Detroit goaltender's pads and slid just over the goal line before being swept out.

A brief review confirmed the goal should stand.

"We put out an embarrassing effort. It's about whatever it takes to get yourself ready (to win)," Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray lamented.

Game Notes

Only four teams in league history have rebounded from an 0-3 series deficit to force a Game 7 but lose, and the Blackhawks fell to the Canucks in this year's Western semis...The Red Wings played without forward Johan Franzen, who was out with an ankle injury...He was replaced by Mike Modano, who played for first time since Game 4 of the Western semis against Phoenix...San Jose missed forward Ryan Clowe, who did not travel with team due to flu-like symptoms.