The Detroit Red Wings scored three unanswered third-period goals and had 39 saves from goalie Jimmy Howard to beat the San Jose Sharks 4-3 on Sunday and keep their NHL playoff series alive.
Tomas Holmstrom scored the winner with 6 minutes, 8 seconds remaining in the game to cap a three-goal spurt that turned around a 3-1 deficit and send the Red Wings back to Detroit for Game 6 of the Western Conference semi-final today trailing 3-2.
“In the third we tried to get everything [we could] and it paid off,” Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall told reporters. “We weren’t scoring the pucks [early] and [goaltender Jimmy Howard] did a good job of keeping us in the game.”
In Game 4, the Red Wings needed a game-winner from Darren Helm in the final two minutes to avoid a sweep and they got yet another clutch performance to extend their season.
While San Jose holds the series advantage, the matchup could not be closer. All five contests have been one-goal games, including two overtime results.
Detroit are attempting to become only the fourth NHL team to win a best-of-seven series after trailing 3-0, while the Sharks are looking to reach the Western Conference Finals for the second straight season.
Devin Setoguchi scored in the first period, Joe Pavelski in the second and Logan Couture early in the third to build a 3-1 lead for San Jose as they looked set to clinch the series.
However, Detroit came back with third-period goals from Jonathan Ericsson and Danny Cleary to tie the scores.
“I just tried to keep the guys as close as possible,” Howard said. “I know how deep our bench is and that we can get it done, so I wanted to keep it close. I was telling myself: ‘We have to win to move on, so just empty the tank.’”
Pavel Datsyuk, who was a doubt before the game because of a wrist injury, had three assists to spark the Detroit attack.
San Jose outshot the Red Wings 42-22 for the game yet could not find the win to close out the series. Antti Niemi finished with 18 saves for the Sharks.