Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Wings' Datsyuk thrives despite injury

Categories: Detroit Red Wings, SJS vs. DET, San Jose Sharks, Second Round

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Detroit Red Wings' Pavel Datsyuk (13) moved into a share of the Stanley Cup playoff points lead on Sunday, despite playing with an injured wrist. (Duane Burleson/Associated Press) Detroit Red Wings' Pavel Datsyuk (13) moved into a share of the Stanley Cup playoff points lead on Sunday, despite playing with an injured wrist. (Duane Burleson/Associated Press)
You could say that Pavel Datsyuk had a hand in the survival of the Detroit Red Wings.

Incorrectly rumoured by a Detroit newspaper to be a scratch for Game 5 of the Wings' Western Conference semifinal with the San Jose Sharks Sunday at HP Pavilion due to an injured wrist, Datsyuk not only played, he thrived, setting up three goals as the Wings rallied from 2-0 and 3-1 deficits for a 4-3 victory.

The win extends this series to Game 6 Tuesday at Detroit's Joe Louis Arena with San Jose leading 3-2.

"I didn't think he was great early, but I thought he was outstanding in the third period," Wings coach Mike Babcock said of Datsyuk. "He really dug in and competed. Obviously, he's a world-class player."

On the game-winning goal, Datsyuk stripped Sharks centre Patrick Marleau of the puck and fed Nicklas Lidstrom, whose point shot was deflected home by Tomas Holmstrom. With 13 points, Datsyuk moved into a share of the Stanley Cup scoring lead.

"It's interesting as you watch the playoffs," Babcock said. "There's lots of nice players in the regular season, they've got good skill level and all that. If you don't have a drive train, if you don't compete at the highest level, you can't win at this time of year.

"It's all about digging in and winning that simple little battle and that's what Pavel does."

Jim Dandy

The Wings lived to fight another day thanks significantly to netminder Jimmy Howard, who blocked 39 shots.

"I was just trying to keep it as close as possible, Howard said. "I know how deep our bench is and I knew we could get the job done."

Babcock felt that Howard has been big for Detroit during all three games in San Jose and was finally rewarded for it.

"Howie got us to the third period," Babcock said. "Before the third, we talked about how Howie was giving us an opportunity, and if we dig in here, we can with this hockey game.

Homer's Game

Holmstrom was parked in his usual spot in the slot not only when he tipped in Lidstrom's goal, but was also absorbing abuse from Niclas Wallin on the edge of the San Jose goal crease when Niklas Kronwall fired home Detroit's first goal.
"During the season, you have those bang-bang plays," said Holmstrom, a four-time Stanley Cup winner. "In the playoffs, everyone is more careful with the puck, playing more defensively, making good decisions.
"You usually see a bunch of goals from around the net."

Defence Never Rests

With so many of Detroit's forwards either ailing or misfiring, the Wings' defence rose to the attack. Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson scored, while Lidstrom picked up his series-leading eighth point of the series.

The Red Wings rearguard helped pick up the slack for a forward group that Babcock felt didn't deliver the goods for his team.

"We weren't competitive enough up front," Babcock said. "I told the guys, 'We can have Game 6 at home in Detroit if we want to just want to get playing here. Let's just get competing'

"As a group of forwards, I didn't think we had that going enough early. Once we got skating, we're obviously a better team."

Facing Out

Datsyuk put his game face on for Detroit, but his ailing wrist prevented him from facing off once during the game.

He didn't take any faceoffs tonight, Babcock said. That's really good investigative reporting there.

Babcock played coy as to the reason why he kept Datsyuk away from the dot. He just didn't feel like taking them, I guess, Babcock said. He's the best on our team, we just don't have him taking them.

Mule Refrain

Wings forward Johan Franzen, fighting a sprained left ankle, didn't see a shift in the third period of Game 5.

"He never played after he kind of tweaked his ankle there," Babcock said. "It's been hard for the Mule. Mule's a star at playoff time, and playing on one leg has been tough for him."

Babcock wouldn't rule out Franzen for Game 6, however.

"I don't know what will happen there," Babcock said. "He'll just tell me if he's going. If he can play, we're going with him."

Miller Time

Babcock made one lineup change, inserting checking forward Drew Miller for Jiri Hudler.
"One thing I knew is we were going to do more penalty-killing tonight, Babcock said. That's automatic. I think Millsy and Patty Eaves are our best penalty killers, so putting him in the lineup, that's why we did it."

Sharks showing 'poison composure?'

"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."

Well, that's what the quoter sheet for San Jose coach Todd McLellan claimed he said. It was, of course, "poise AND composure," but who's to say he didn't have it right the way it was typed?
The Sharks blew leads of 2-0 and 3-1 Sunday night to lose Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals to Detroit and now have to schlep back to Michigan for Tuesday's sixth game, knowing that yet again their lack of killer instinct has become an issue.

On a night when they dominated the first period and controlled most of the second, they still gave up four goals in 23 minutes, and three goals on Detroit's last six shots to give the Red Wings new life heading home.

"We made some mistakes, got caught out there a little too long on that last goal," McLellan said,  "but I think the players sent the message to each other that if we play like that Tuesday, we'll have a good chance to win."

The odds say they should. Teams that lose a clinching opportunity in Game 5 are still a seven-in-nine shot to win the series (80 of 103). But San Jose has lost the choke hold on the series it had in Game 1, as Detroit has wriggled its way free for more and more breathing room.

The Sharks lost Game 5 despite a 42-22 shot advantage, including 12-6 in the third, when the Wings got their two tying and game-winning goals. Twenty giveaways, though, and loss of focus down the stretch, cost them again, as it did at the start of Game 4, when they fell behind 3-0. The Sharks have allowed multiple goals in 10 of their 30 regulation periods in the postseason, and a 1-3 in clinching games (12-14 overall).

San Jose Game 5 lines

Patrick Marleau   Joe Thornton      Devin Setoguchi
Ryane Clowe Logan Couture  Dany Heatley
Torrey Mitchell     Joe Pavelski       Kyle Wellwood
Jamie McGinn       Scott Nichol           Benn Ferriero

Douglas Murray      Dan Boyle
Marc-Edouard Vlasic  Jason Demers
Ian White              Niclas Wallin

Antti Niemi
Antero Niittymaki