The Detroit Red Wings played a very good game against the San Jose Sharks, and came out of it with a 4-3 win. Darren Helm notched the winning goal during a third period offensive onslaught that saw Antti Niemi make save after save, but lacking play from the Sharks defensively led to Niemi eventually being overwhelmed. Helm put the puck in net with just 1:27 to go in the game, with assists from Brian Rafalski and Patrick Eaves.
It was a rocky start in which the Red Wings jumped to a 3-0 lead in the first period. Todd Bertuzzi made a nice, spinning shot that deflected off of Douglas Murray and went in. In actuality, the referees should have called offsides on the play, which the Versus team touched up on during the first intermission. One could argue that it lead to the Sharks losing the game, since it was just a one-goal affair, but the prevailing feeling was that the Sharks were playing badly enough defensively at that point to give up the goal either way.
Nicklas Lidstrom added a pair of goals in the opening frame, when Dan Boyle crashed into Niemi and Lidstrom simply caught the rebound, putting it in no problem. Goal number two was a little more impressive, hitting the puck out of the air after stopping it with a limb or two after getting the feet in the middle of the ice, he buries it past Niemi on the power play.
Logan Couture added a goal in the first period that the commentators (it was the Detroit team) called an "unearned goal." Despite that abortion of commentary, it was actually a nice goal that Ryane Clowe got the assist on. The second period started at 3-1 for the Red Wings, but the Sharks continued to chip away at it, when they won a faceoff in Detroit's zone and Kyle Wellwood did some puck wizardry to feed Dan Boyle, who put it buried it. At the beginning of the third, Dany Heatley flat-out beat Jimmy Howard all alone in front of the net to tie it up. This was followed by the Helm goal, and the rest is history.
The game probably should have been a lot more slanted for Detroit, when it comes to the final score. They dominated control of the puck, and held a significant advantage in shots with 40 to San Jose's 28. Detroit played like a team desperate for the win, while the Sharks played a little bit complacently, for the most part. Antti Niemi was the exception to that rule, making some of the best saves of his career and these Stanley Cup Playoffs on his way to 36-of-40 saves for a .900 save percentage. Jimmy Howard stopped 25-of-28 for an .893 save percentage.
Officiating wasn't terrible in this game by any means, but there were a couple missed calls, including the offsides penalty that allowed the first goal, and at least two of Detroit's four power plays probably should have led to a 4-on-4, (Joe Thornton's holding penalty on Henrik Zetterberg in the second period came right after Zetterberg should have been called for a hook) but the Sharks can't put the blame on the referees tonight. It was a game that Detroit just appeared to want more, and they came out doing everything they possibly can to get the win.
If Niemi plays like he did tonight going forward, the Sharks have a solid chance to win the series. His play was stellar, and that's something they can hang their hat on, the biggest positive coming out of this game. It says a lot when the Red Wings dominate play from beginning to end and it's only a one-goal win.
Play resumes on Sunday at the HP Pavilion in San Jose for game five, and will be shown on Versus.