Wings work hard for their money

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:51 AM ET


 There was no horn-honking on 17th last night and there's no joy in Cowtown today.

 The Flames' valiant run at the Red Wings took a nasty turn for the worse in Game 4 when the visitors quieted the 'Dome with, of all things, a taste of their own medicine.

 Following yet another stunning comeback that saw the Flames battle back from a 2-0 deficit with two second-period goals in a club-record 18 seconds, the veteran Wings turned the series around with a workmanlike effort.

 Oh, the irony.

 "We spent a couple days here listening to how we were outworked and part of that is true," said Brendan Shanahan following his club's 4-2 win, evening the Western Conference semifinal series at two wins apiece.

 "Calgary is putting up a great fight but so are we. They have youth and speed but we, too, have tremendous speed, heart and work ethic and I thought we showed it."

 They sure did.

 It says all you need to know about the Wings win when Kris Draper is the game's first star, followed by fellow irritant and linemate Kirk Maltby.

 But nothing symbolized the Wings' effort like the game-winning goal midway through the third when Mathieu Dandenault capitalized on the most dominating shift the series has seen thus far.

 Spearheaded by shocking tenacity from Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Brett Hull, the Wings pinned the Flames in their own zone for two full minutes with a forecheck stolen from the Flames' playbook.

 They cycled, they battled, they hit and they stifled the Flames' five-man unit, which couldn't make it to the bench for a line change.

 Wearing down a Flames defensive corps playing without Rhett Warrener again, the Wings changed lines when Oleg Saprykin and Steve Montador were unable to ice the puck, opening the door for Dandenault's fluky silencer.

 "That was a case where we had them on the ropes, they were looking for a change and so we had to keep putting pressure on them by hanging around the net and pressing away," said Dandenault, who jammed home a Tomas Holmstrom shot that squeezed through Miikka Kiprusoff's pads.

 "It paid off."

 Much like Game 6 against Vancouver, the raucous crowd left quietly following a brilliant comeback by the hosts, leaving many wondering if, indeed, the Wings are finally back on track and won't look back from here.

 They would be a foolish bunch.

 Heading back to The Joe for tomorrow's matinee, the Wings have regained the momentum, home-ice advantage, confidence and the knowledge that the only way to beat the Flames is to outwork them.

 However, it's pertinent to insert a subtle reminder here that the Flames have looked like a club on the ropes before, only to have them respond with haymakers -- kinda like the one from Shean Donovan that dropped Maltby in the dying seconds after Ville Nieminen gave Curtis Joseph a cheap Birthday bump that sparked fireworks.

 By no means is this series over.

 There's plenty of fight left in this battered bunch as was evidenced by their remarkable comeback last night, with two gritty goals in record time.

 The team got the crowd back into it and although it makes little sense, it's likely they'll do it again tomorrow in the most unlikely of places.

 The irony of being outworked last night will not be lost on the Flames, even if some now think the series will be.


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