Well, that was emphatic.
Facing their first playoff sweep in eight years, the Detroit Red Wings rode the blisteringly hot stick of Johan Franzen to a 7-1 beatdown of the San Jose Sharks in Game Four of a Western Conference Semifinal.
Franzen had four goals and two assists, including a natural hat trick in the first period in a span of 3:26. That was part of a five-goal first period for the Red Wings that killed any chance San Jose had of wrapping up business tonight.
The win extends the series to a fifth game back in San Jose on Saturday, but still leaves the Sharks with a 3-1 series lead.
Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov got the gate at the end of the first period, not necessarily because he was responsible for the defecit as much as out of sympathy. For no one seemed able to stop Franzen except Bertuzzi's leg.
It was that leg that deflected Franzen's shot with Dwight Helminen in the penalty box, off a set up by Henrik Zetterberg. Franzen skated in a little bit and fired from the top of the circle, bouncing the puck off Bertuzzi's leg and into the net, earning Bertuzzi his second goal of the playoffs.
Two minutes later, the Wings would score again. Again, it was Zetterberg starting the play, but this time it was his shot that was blocked by Nabokov, who was tied up by Franzen. The puck rolled to the left of Nabokov, and Franzen backhanded it into the net. with Bertuzzi getting the other assist.
Franzen would strike again three minutes later. Nicklas Lidstrom fired the puck up to Bertuzzi. He set up Franzen with a backhand, and Franzen would take the wrister past Nabokov top shelf.
Finally, Franzen would take a blast from 20 feet out. Nabokov made the save, but the puck rolled over to his right, when Franzen found it to bury it just 33 seconds later for his natural hat trick.
Then, with 70 seconds left in the period, Filppula had the puck behind and to the right of Nabokov. He surrendered the puck to Douglas Murray. Murray tried to clear the puck, but instead it went off Dan Boyle and past Nabokov. Filppula picked up his fourth goal as the last Red Wing to touch the puck, with Tomas Holmstrom and Pavel Datsyuk getting helpers.
In the second period, with Helminen once again sitting for two minutes, Franzen sent a pass up ice to Bertuzzi. Bertuzzi made a great cross-ice pass to a streaking Rafalski, who fired it past back-up goaltender Thomas Greiss to get his second of the playoffs.
San Jose would finally crack the scoreboard, though it'd take a five-on-three to make it happen. After it appeared Detroit would be able to kill off the penalty with a Datsyuk clear off a faceoff, Heatley fired a 35-foot shot that simply went through Howard's wickets and into the net for his second of the playoffs. Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau had assists.
In the third period, Franzen would hit again, as Lidstrom fired a shot from the blue line that Franzen would put back to wrap up the scoring, with Zetterberg picking up the second assist.
The third period also saw plenty of chirpiness, as the two teams combined for 17 penalties totaling 64 minutes.
Game five is Saturday night. The Red Wings know the Sharks will be ready. They have to keep it going.
Player of the game: Johan Franzen. Four goals should do nicely, thank you very much.