A slow start and defensive errors took their toll on the Red Wings, allowing the Flames to take a 1-0 win in Game Five, giving them a 3-2 series lead.
The Red Wings did not manage to dominate the Flames in the first period as they have often done this series; in fact, Calgary outshot Detroit by a count of 8 to 7. Again, both goaltenders were spectacular. Curtis Joseph held the Red Wings in with a poke check against Martin Gelinas after a giveaway along the boards.
Miikka Kiprusoff didn’t have much to do early in the period, but Detroit started to pressure offensively when they got a power play near the end of the first. Kiprusoff was called upon to make big saves against Steve Yzerman from the side of the net and Brett Hull from the high slot.
The second period started off much as the first had done: the Flames came out with more energy and the Red Wings had to scramble to catch up. Joseph did his part to keep the team in the game with a huge glove save against Jarome Iginla just over a minute into the period.
The Red Wings looked to be finding their skating legs and managing to create some scoring chances against Kiprusoff when the disaster of the game struck. The puck deflected off of a skate in front of the Detroit net and hit Yzerman hard in the face. He fell to the ice and had to be helped off by the team trainer as he clutched a towel to his left eye. Yzerman did not return for the remainder of the game.
The Flames were able to score their only goal a few minutes later. Jiri Fischer hit Iginla along the boards, but Iginla was still able to center a pass to Craig Conroy, who lifted the puck high over Joseph.
The Red Wings seemed to regain some composure for the third period. They did generate more shots against Kiprusoff, but most of the shots were of the non-screened, relatively easy to stop variety. Hull had an excellent chance to shoot into an open net during a power play, but the puck bounced just over his stick.
With the Red Wings’ third period onslaught of shots, Kiprusoff wound up making a total of 31 saves for the shutout. Joseph made a total of 20 saves on 21 shots.
Game Six of the semi-final series will be played Monday night in Calgary.
With Ville Nieminen suspended for running at Joseph in Game Four, the Flames brought Dave Lowry into the lineup. Rhett Warrener also made his way back into the lineup after missing two games with a scratched cornea?. Chris Chelios was again scratched for Detroit due to an upper body injury.