Saturday, May 7, 2011

Lidstrom's big game, Helm help Red Wings stay alive vs. Sharks

Saturday, May 7, 2011

DETROIT ? Detroit Red Wings 41-year-old captain Nicklas Lidstrom was asked on Thursday whether he was thinking about the possibility that his NHL career could be over if his team were eliminated from the playoffs. He said only that he would consider his future later in the summer.

  • Detroit Red Wings center Darren Helm (43) celebrates with defenseman Niklas Kronwall after scoring a goal in the third period.

    By Leon Halip, US Presswire

    Detroit Red Wings center Darren Helm (43) celebrates with defenseman Niklas Kronwall after scoring a goal in the third period.

By Leon Halip, US Presswire

Detroit Red Wings center Darren Helm (43) celebrates with defenseman Niklas Kronwall after scoring a goal in the third period.

"(Media members) were talking about retirement," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said in Friday's postgame news conference. "I think he answered that pretty good

Lidstrom scored two goals and played a key role on defense to spark Detroit to a 4-3 win against the San Jose Sharks that keeps the Red Wings alive in the Western Conference quarterfinal.

"He stepped up and led his team — that's what captains do," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "He has a calming effect on his team."

But even with Lidstrom's effort, the Red Wings still needed a dramatic goal by Darren Helm with 1:27 remaining in regulation and a frenetic defensive stand in the closing seconds to move the series back to San Jose for Game 5.

All of that was needed because the Red Wings, facing elimination, squandered a 3-0 lead that they built in the first period.

"Even though they came back, late in the game, we were a desperate team that still wanted to play hockey," Lidstrom said. "That really came out late in the game."

San Jose vs. Detroit

Sharks lead series 3-1

Game 1: San Jose 2, Detroit 1 (OT)

Game 2: San Jose 2, Detroit 1

Game 3: San Jose 4, Detroit 3 (OT)

Game 4: Detroit 4 San Jose 3

May 8: at San Jose, 8 p.m. (Versus)

x-May 10: at Detroit, TBA (Versus)

x-May 12: at San Jose, TBA (Versus)

x-if necessary. All times ET

With 182 playoff goals, Lidstrom has passed Jaromir Jagr to move into 11th place on the NHL's all-time list.

Still trailing 3-1 in the best-of-seven series, the Red Wings are attempting to become only the fourth team in NHL history to come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series. But one of those occurred last season when the Philadelphia Flyers rallied against the Boston Bruins.

"Those were the best legs (the Red Wings) had in the series thus far and that widens the gap a little bit," McLellan said. "Then our lack of legs and lack of execution widens it even more."

Patrick Eaves' cross-ice feed set up Helm for the winning goal on a shot from the left wing circle.

"It's about the logo on your chest," Helm said. "There's a lot of pride in this dressing room and guys knew it was a desperate situation and they didn't want to be embarrassed by being swept. We feel like we have a good chance here."

Eaves said he normally shoots from the position he was in, but opted for the pass when he saw two Sharks players bearing down on him. "Helmer found a lane and I threw it over to him," Eaves said.

On Lidstrom's second goal, he batted the puck out of the air with a baseball-type swing. He leads the Red Wings with four postseason goals.

"He's a special player," said Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard. "Maybe that's the type of bounce we needed, something like that where he takes a swing out of mid-air, it takes a bounce and goes top shelf. Maybe that's something finally going our way. He's so cerebral when he's out there. He never puts himself in a compromising position. "

Dany Heatley's goal 1:14 into the third period — set up by Ryane Clowe's centering pass — tied the game at 3-3.

"It felt like we were chasing the whole game," Clowe said.

The Red Wings built a 3-0 first period lead, thanks to two goals by Lidstrom and one by Todd Bertuzzi.

Bertuzzi opened the scoring at 6:22 of the first period when he spun around to avoid a checker and lifted a backhander that hit San Jose goalie Antti Niemi and caromed into the net.

At 11:09 of the period, Lidstrom moved into the slot and ripped a booming shot by Niemi.

"As a team we just said, 'We got to go out there and play with confidence," Lidstrom said. "We know we can play and we just have to go out there and do it."

On the power play at 18:01, Lidstrom moved in from the point to claim a rebound and batted a bouncing puck past Niemi to make it a 3-0 game. The Red Wings had 17 shots in that period.

Big leads haven't been safe in this year's playoffs, and the Red Wings' lead wasn't either. In the first round, the Sharks had come back from a four-goal deficit to defeat the Los Angeles Kings.

At 18:16 of the first period, the Sharks started the comeback when Logan Couture tipped in Clowe's shot to cut Detroit's lead to two goals.

The Red Wings' energy burst and good karma didn't follow them into the second period. They couldn't cash in on three power-play opportunities, and then allowed San Jose defenseman Dan Boyle to sneak in the back door to beat Howard with a high shot to make it a one-goal game at 13:44.

"We have to get back to work and take advantage of our home-ice advantage," Boyle said.

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