Helm’s Late Goal Keeps Red Wings Alive Against Sharks

Darren Helm scored with 1:27 remaining in regulation Friday night, giving the Detroit Red Wings a 4-3 win over the San Jose Sharks and forcing a Game Five in their Western Conference Semifinal series.

The Sharks lead the series, 3-1, and could have finished the Red Wings off in Game Four.

After a faceoff in the San Jose end, Brian Rafalski held the puck in and fired a shot on goal from the right point. Sharks goalie Antti Niemi made the stop but the rebound came out to Patrick Eaves in the right faceoff circle, who pushed it across to Helm in the left circle for a wrister past Niemi.

The tally made up for a first-period turnover by Helm, leading to San Jose’s first goal and the start of a comeback after Detroit took a 3-0 lead in the first period.

With 1:44 left in the first, just 15 seconds after the Red Wings extended their early lead to 3-0, Helm turned the puck over to Ryane Clowe at the Detroit blue line. Clowe carried the puck down low along the left wing boards and threw it on net. Logan Couture got a piece of it on the way through and it trickled through Jimmy Howard‘s pads to make it 3-1.

Dan Boyle pulled the Sharks to within a single goal with 6:16 remaining in the second, slipping past Jiri Hudler into the right circle all alone, then taking a pass from Kyle Wellwood and snapping a shot past Howard.

Just 1:14 into the third, Dany Heatley beat Howard from the top of the crease off a pass from Clowe to complete the comeback, but the Sharks would be unable to pull ahead.

Todd Bertuzzi had opened the game’s scoring at 6:22 of the first. Bertuzzi carried the puck into the San Jose zone and spun around Heatley at the top of the left circle before backhanding a shot that deflected and fluttered past Niemi.

Nicklas Lidstrom made it 2-0 with 8:51 left in the period, blasting the rebound of a Danny Cleary shot by Niemi.

Lidstrom’s second of the night made it 3-0 with 1:59 left in the opening frame. In the closing seconds of a Detroit power play, Henrik Zetterberg pulled the puck out of a scramble around the front of the net and brought it to the left circle. He sent a high pass out to Lidstrom in the right circle, who knocked it down off his knee and then whacked a shot out of mid-air on Niemi. The puck bounced off the ice and skipped past the San Jose goalie.

Lidstrom’s second was the lone power play goal of the night. Detroit had four tries with the extra attacker while San Jose had two.

Niemi made 36 saves on 40 shots on the night. Howard stopped 25 of 28 shots.

The two teams will meet in San Jose for Game Five on Sunday.

Mike Modano, Drew Miller and Jakub Kindl were the healthy scratches for the Red Wings.

Pregame Notes: Sharks @ Red Wings – Game Four

I’m not going to lie, there’s a part of me that kind of hopes that – if the Red Wings are going to lose this series – they just drop Game Four tonight and get it over with.

I still firmly believe Detroit *can* win this series. When they’ve been on, they’ve had no problem competing with the Sharks. They played well enough to win Game Three. Yes, they slowed down in the third but I think that was the first time all series that San Jose got outplayed.

The problem is the Wings haven’t been on enough. Even if they flip the switch, the Sharks will attempt to counter. So I think this Detroit team can win the series but, rationally, I don’t expect it to happen. And if it’s not going to happen, I don’t want to be jerked around anymore.

I’ll admit that I’ve got a little bit of morbid curiosity about what would happen if the Wings lost a series at home. Aside from 2009, when Pittsburgh won the Cup at Joe Louis Arena, the Red Wings haven’t finished off a losing series in Detroit since 1999. Since then, the trend of teams saluting their fans at season’s end has sprung up. I’ve never seen the Red Wings do it and I wonder if they would given a prime opportunity.

As far as the actual game goes… No lineup changes for Detroit. I don’t know how I feel about not putting Mike Modano in, seems like his scoring potential would be nice right now. That said, the Game Three lineup was pretty solid so maybe there isn’t a need to shake it up.

Game time is 7:00 on Versus.