The Detroit Red Wings had a chance to take a 3-1 series lead over the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night – and do so with Anaheim defenseman Chris Pronger serving a one-game suspension for a high hit on Tomas Holmstrom in game three of their Western Conference Final matchup – but they failed on that opportunity, losing to the Ducks, 5-3.
En route to the loss, the Red Wings were unable to score on two long five-on-three chances, one in the second period and one in the third.
The Ducks got on the board just 1:37 into the game and would never trail.
After a failed outlet pass by Todd Bertuzzi, Corey Perry picked up the puck at the Detroit blue line. He stepped up to the top of the right circle and ripped a shot past Detroit netminder Dominik Hasek.
The Red Wings pulled even 1:52 later when Dan Cleary deflected a Chris Chelios pass in behind goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
Richard Jackman, in the lineup for the suspended Pronger, put the Ducks back out in front with 8:14 remaining in the opening period, slapping the puck into the back of the net from the high slot on an Anaheim power play.
Teemu Selanne extended the Ducks’ lead with 1:29 remaining, whacking a bouncing puck past Hasek from in close.
The Red Wings would rally in the second.
Bertuzzi atoned for his earlier miscue with a power play goal at 7:48. Robert Lang carried the puck behind the net before throwing it out front to Bertuzzi, who banged it home from the top of the crease.
Cleary would add a second goal with 4:24 remaining in the middle period, another Detroit power play goal. Bertuzzi tried a bank shot from behind the net off of Giguere but the puck came free in front of the net. With the Anaheim netminder scrambling and sprawled on the ice, Cleary lifted a shot over him and into the net.
The Ducks would retake – and hold – the lead in the third period.
Ryan Getzlaf scored on a wrister from the top of the right circle to pull the Ducks ahead on a power play at 5:24 and Rob Niedermayer added an empty net goal with 1:08 remaining.
Both teams finished the night with two power play goals. Detroit had six chances with the extra attacker while Anaheim had five.
Hasek made 18 saves on 22 shots against. Giguere stopped 36 of Detroit’s 39 shots.
The Ducks’ win means the series will now go at least six games. Game five will be on Sunday afternoon in Detroit and game six will be Tuesday night in Anaheim.