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Wings stun Sharks with mother of a comeback
SJ blows 2-goal lead in the 3rd, back to Detroit for Game 6
5/8/11 - By Mike Lee -

The San Jose Sharks skated like a team destined to take a deciding fourth win in their Western Conference Semi Final series against the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday night for 41 minutes. Problem is, hockey games are 60 minutes. After taking a commanding 3-1 lead a minute into the 3rd period, the Sharks reopened their casket of playoff demons with a painful 19 minutes that allowed the Red Wings to score three unanswered goals and take Game 5 with a 4-3 win on HP Pavilion ice.

After manhandling the Red Wings for the first two periods, San Jose let a wounded Red Wings lineup stun them to extend the series to a sixth game on Tuesday night.

With stars Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen suffering from injuries, the Sharks should have been poised to finish off the Red Wings, but they just flat out took their foot off the gas. The about face was impossible to explain after the Sharks commanded so much of the ice for so long.

Rather than preparing for the Western Conference Finals, San Jose must now battle demons of playoff failures past as they prepare for Game 6.

"At the end of the night we lost the game," said a testy Todd McLellan after the game. "That's the most disappointing thing. We didn't play a poor game and that's hard to swallow. We didn't give up many opportunities and I thought we had some poison composure in the 3rd period."

It was all Sharks out of the gate.

Brad Stuart put his former team on the power play after boarding Logan Couture at 5:46 of the opening period. Detroit would stymie the Sharks power play early by clogging up the middle.

Niklas Lidstrom tripped up Devin Setoguchi in front of the Detroit net at 12:26 to put the Sharks back on the power play. Jimmy Howard made a big save on a second chance shot by Setoguchi, but that's as close as San Jose would get.

Antti Niemi robbed Jonathan Ericsson moments later after the Red Wings pushed the puck into the San Jose zone and setup a one-time chance after a shot from the left point deflected to the bottom of the right circle where the Detroit forward was roaming. Niemi had to dive to his left, snaring Ericsson's shot with an extended glove.

The Sharks got to Jimmy Howard at 17:18 on a pretty deflection by Setoguchi. Dan Boyle sent in a shot from the point just as Setoguchi was crossing through the slot. The Sharks forward got his stick blade on the waist-high shot, deflecting it toward the ice. Howard had no chance on the bounce, as the puck skipped past him.

Johan Franzen took exception to a hit by Joe Thornton 30 seconds later along the boards just inside the Detroit zone. Franzen reacted by slashing Thornton by flailing his stick with one hand. Thornton dressed up Franzen's stick work by falling to the ice, earning an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Franzen joined him for the slash to setup a 4-on-4 situation.

Pavel Datsyuk put the Sharks on the power play for a 3rd consecutive time after holding Ryane Clowe at 2:46 of the 2nd period. Howard made a stellar pad save off a point-blank shot by Boyle. San Jose's power play looked better, but once again couldn't get anything past Howard.

Howard came up big a minute after the Datsyuk penalty expired, snaring a Jason Demers rocket off a Sharks rush up ice.

Joe Pavelski led a 2-on-1 chance 7 minutes in, but the centerman pushed a shot wide of the right post after Darren Helm hustled back to disrupt the scoring chance.

Thornton gave Detroit their first power play of the game when Thornton took a hooking penalty at the midpoint of the period. The Sharks penalty kill smothered the Red Wings, denying any shots on the chance.

Clowe found himself with the puck and nobody between him and Howard with 7 minutes to play in the period, but Howard denied a scoring chance from the left side to keep the Sharks lead at the lone goal.

Clowe elected to dish the puck on an identical chance less than two minutes later after Kyle Wellwood chipped a pass off the left wing boards. Joe Pavelski was on the receiving end of Clowe's feed, redirecting it past Howard for the 2-0 lead.

Detroit answered less than a minute later when Niklas Kronwall pumped a shot past Niemi from the right side. Datsyuk kept the puck in the offensive zone, working it along the left wing boards back toward the blueline, before sending a pass across the high slot to Kronwall at the top of the right circle.

Kronwall followed up his goal with a big check on Clowe who was reaching for a puck in front of the Sharks bench. Kronwall's hit was sweetened by the comments that Clowe made after Game 4, following a similar hit by the Red Wing on Heatley.

Logan Couture pushed the Sharks lead back to 2 goals 54 seconds into the 3rd period after slipping behind the Detroit defense after Heatley sent a lead pass to the rookie centerman at center ice. Couture raced up ice and deposited a shot past Howad after deeking left and pulling back to the backhand.

Heatley took a high sticking penalty 30 seconds later but a pare of back-checking gems. Helped San Jose kill the penalty.

Once again the Red Wings cut into the Sharks lead after San Jose's defense got crossed up in their own zone. Ericsson punched a rebound into a wide open net, after Niemi was knocked over by his own defenseman.

Detroit tied it up less than two minutes later after Dan Cleary hacked at a loose puck from the right post. Marc-Edouard Vlasic didn't help by pinning down his own netminder on the play.

San Jose would completely come unglued with 6:08 to play, when Tomas Holmstrom deflected a point shot by Lidstrom by Niemi. The Red Wings forward camped out in front of the Sharks net and deflected the blast to put the Red Wings up 4-3.

"I think you put yourselves in a very dangerous position if you start getting back on your heels against that team, but I don't think that was the case tonight," said McLellan. "We gave up 6 shots in the 3rd period and 3 of them went in."

Justin Abdelkader hit Boyle with an elbow at 14:55 to give the Sharks another shot with the man advantage, but as was the case all night, the Sharks failed to take advantage of the gifts afforded to them.

McLellan pulled his netminder with a minute left in regulation. The extra skater would serve the Sharks as it did all night long, failing them to send the series back to Detroit for a 6th game.

"We're going to be better for sure in game six. We are going to take it back to Detroit . We think we played real well here. We probably should have won game three and we didn't so now we've got to go back there and win game six."


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1 2 3 T
DET 0 1 3 4
SJ 1 1 1 3
1st period - 1, SJ, Setoguchi 5 (Boyle, Thornton), 17:18.
2nd period - 2, SJ, Pavelski 5 (Clowe, Wellwood), 15:32. 3, DET, Kronwall 2 (Datsyuk, Stuart), 16:25.
3rd period - 4, SJ, Couture 4 (Heatley), 0:54. 5, DET, Ericsson 1 (Zetterberg, Datsyuk), 3:43. 6, DET, Cleary 2 (Kronwall, Bertuzzi), 5:29. 7, DET, Holmstrom 3 (Lidstrom, Datsyuk), 13:52.
1st period - Stuart, DET (boarding), 5:46; Lidstrom, DET (tripping), 12:26; Franzen, DET (slashing), 17:43; Thornton, SJ (unsportsmanlike conduct), 17:43.
2nd period - Datsyuk, DET (holding), 2:46; Thornton, SJ (hooking), 10:05.
3rd period - Heatley, SJ (high sticking), 1:25; Abdelkader, DET (elbowing), 14:55.
Shots Saves
DET - Howard 42 39
SJ - Niemi 22 18
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
DET 7 9 6 22
SJ 16 14 12 42
Power Play Conversion
DET 0 of 2
SJ 0 of 4
3 Stars of the Game
Pavel Datsyuk
Joe Pavelski
Jimmy Howard
Referees: Lee, Peel. Linesmen: Amell, Racicot.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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