I was going to do some sort of play on LL Cool J and "don't call it a comeback", but that's the only song of his that I'm familiar with, and I wasn't sure that saying something like "Mama said knock you out" was appropriate for Mother's Day. However, typing it out makes me realize it is in keeping with the theme of the day. Whatever.
I may be rambling all over the place, but trust me, this recap will get better. Just like the Wings, I'm saving the best for last.
The Sharks opened the scoring in late in the first. After carrying the play for the majority of the period, Joe Thornton won the faceoff back to Dan Boyle who walked it along the blue line and took a wrist shot. Red Wing-killer Devin Setoguchi got a stick on it and deflected it by Jimmy Howard, and the Sharks were up 1-0. The Sharks out-shot the Wings 16-7, and earned the only 2 power plays of the period.
Follow the jump for the highlights and analysis.
The second period went pretty much the same as the first. The Sharks were like a possessive boyfriend and wouldn't allow the Wings to talk to the puck. That paid off when Joe Pavelski took a pass from Ryane Clowe on a 2-on-1 and scored, giving the Sharks a huge 2-goal lead. However, the Wings came off life support for a moment about a minute later. Pavel Datsyuk, playing with a bad wrist, showed that his vision wasn't affected and laid a perfect pass to Niklas Kronwall, who ripped a wrister past Niemi and got the Wings back to within a goal.
Entering the third, the phrase "do or die" was the most obvious one that anyone could say, yet the Sharks got their second 2-goal lead of the game when Logan Couture galloped his way into the Wings' zone and deked Howard. The Wings were given a power play a few minutes later, but did nothing with it. However, after it was over, Jonathan Ericsson found himself alone in the slot and put a wrist shot through Niemi to once again get the Wings back into it. The Wings, showing a ton of desperation, tied the game about a minute later when Dan Cleary bounced a puck in off of Niemi from below the goal line. The Wings continued to pour it on and got their first lead of the night with 6 minutes left in the period. Datsyuk out-worked Patrick Marleau for a puck along the boards and fed it to Nicklas Lidstrom, who's slap shot was tipped by Ryan Lambert's favourite player of all time, Tomas Holmstrom. The Wings held on for the final 5 minutes of the third and booked a trip back to the Joe.
- Red Wing fans, say hello to Jimmy Howard, your playoff goaltender. 39 saves, many of them of the difficult variety. He was fantastic, and without him, there's no way the Wings win this game tonight.
- Can we finally just say that Pavel Datsyuk is the best player in the NHL? 3 assists with a bad hand, and he was pretty much the single source of offense for the Wings all night. Imagine if he was 100% healthy. He does everything, and he does it better than anyone.
- Joe Thornton, you're an idiot. Grow up and lead your team by example, which in case you didn't know, doesn't involve flopping around. You have a ton of skill, but garbage like that is the reason why you don't enjoy the respect around the league that some people think you should.
- I said in the last game I thought it was far more important for the Wings to win a close game than it was for them to blow out the Sharks, and I think that was evident tonight. The Sharks came out and dominated play early, had a couple of 2-goal leads, and were generally the better team, yet the Wings stayed patient and waited for their opportunities. It's like beating the Sharks in Game 4 reminded the Wings that San Jose is beatable, despite their recent success in this matchup.
Make no mistake: the Wings were thoroughly out-played for the majority of this game. They stole it like Pavel Datsyuk steals pucks from everyone in the NHL. However, when their backs were against the wall, they turned it on in a way that makes us ask "where has this team been"? The stats won't show it, but the Wings were the better team in the third period, and once again when the Wings were desperate, they exploded for 3 goals. Down 2 goals twice, including in the third period, and they kept coming at the Sharks.
This is the reason I love the Detroit Red Wings. They never give up, no matter what. I know there were a ton of people who gave up most or all of their hope when Couture scored to make it 3-1; I didn't blame them one bit. My confidence level at that moment was on par with the beverage I was enjoying, which was near empty. However, like that sweet bit of liquid still in the bottle, I still had faith that the Wings could come back, and I'll guarantee that anyone who did think they were done didn't mind being proven wrong.
However, the only the thing the Wings have done is win a couple of games. They are still the ones facing elimination, and one mistake could cost the Wings their season. They will need to be a hell of a lot better in Game 6.
Remember, the Wings have nothing to lose here; they are still down in this series, most people picked the Sharks to win in the first place, and there is still tons of pressure on the Sharks to get this done on Tuesday night. The Wings have a ton of talent, but it's not like the Sharks are pushovers. However, this is a team with a questionable playoff history, and the Wings won a game tonight they really had no business winning. How will the Sharks react? Interesting to note, because if the Wings play the way in Game 6 the way they did in Games 3 and 4, there's a strong possibility that we could be seeing a Game 7 in San Jose Thursday night. One game at a time.
See you Tuesday, San Jose.