Red Wings refuse to die

Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard makes a glove save against the Sharks during Game 5 of their NHL...

Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard makes a glove save against the Sharks during Game 5 of their NHL Western Conference semifinal series in San Jose, Calif., May 8, 2011. (CHAD ZIEMENDORF/Reuters)

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:00 AM ET

SAN JOSE - You could say Pavel Datsyuk willed the Detroit Red Wings to victory Sunday night single-handedly.

Jimmy Howard’s hot glove hand didn’t hurt either.

Written off and left for dead after falling behind 3-0 in their Western Conference semifinal series with the San Jose Sharks, the Wings sent a message they’re not going to go quietly into the off-season after scoring a 4-3 victory at HP Pavilion.

Led by a three-assist effort by Datsyuk, who had such a bad wrist he wasn’t taking faceoffs, and a 39-save performance by Howard, the Wings erased a two-goal third period deficit and pulled off the victory.

“We weren’t giving up at all,” said Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom. “We kept going after them. We kept getting the pucks at the net and we tried to be active with the defencemen when we could.

“We just kept shooting and getting pucks on the net. We’re not going to give up. We had to win. That’s what we did.”

Tomas Holmstrom scored the winner at 13:52 of the third to cap the remarkable comeback.

No, the Wings aren’t out of the woods yet, but Game 6 is scheduled for Tuesday at the Joe Louis Arena and that’s not what San Jose wanted.

Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski and Devin Setoguchi scored for the Sharks while Jonathan Ericsson, Dan Cleary and Niklas Kronwall also stepped up for Detroit. Every game in this series has been decided by one goal.

The Wings didn’t throw in the towel. With the Sharks up 3-1 after Couture scored only 54 seconds into the third period, Cleary and Ericsson scored to tie it up 3-3 for Detroit in a span of 1:46.

The Wings were heaping a lot of praise on Datsyuk, who did incredible work on the winning goal to help set up Lidstrom’s shot from the point that Holmstrom tipped past Antti Niemi.

“He was outstanding. He’s been great all playoffs. He’s been a driving force with his will and determination,” said Cleary, who tied it at 5:29. “He’s so determined to make a play. He’s got great strength on the puck. He’s physical. He steals pucks. He’s an inspirational play for us.”

Asked about his wrist, Datsyuk stopped the question before it was finished: “Whoa, whoa, whoa. I’m OK. I’m fine. Anyway I’m not a shooter. It doesn’t help me.”

Actually, Howard was pretty inspirational for the Wings as well because they wouldn’t have had a chance to win this game without him. San Jose completely outplayed Detroit in the first 40 minutes, but couldn’t pull away.

“Howie got us to the third period,” said Wings coach Mike Babcock. “He was good and our goaltending was good. We weren’t competitive enough up front. Howie played really well and he gave us a chance to win it.

“Before the third, we talked about how he was giving us an opportunity and if we wanted to take advantage of it, we could win this game. We got down 3-1, but we answered back. I thought Pavel was unbelievable in the third. We didn’t have enough guys up front (all) night.”

Suddenly, the Sharks are feeling the heat to close this series out in the Motor City.

“We’re happy to move this into a Game 6,” said Lidstrom. “We’ve got some momentum but we have to come out (Tuesday) and play the way we did in the third period. We can’t play the way we did the first two periods. They were taking the game to us early on.”

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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