If nothing else, tonight’s Wings-Sharks games will be remembered for the scoring touch of Detroit’s “Mule.” Johan Franzen’s four goals and six points lead the way to help give Detroit a 7-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks in Game 4. It was very nearly a five goal effort for Franzen but Detroit’s first goal, originally credited to Franzen, was changed to Todd Bertuzzi after it apparently deflected off his leg and past starting goalie Evgeni Nabokov.
Franzen’s fourth goal would come in the third period off of Nabokov’s replacement Thomas Greiss with the game well in hand, but for him it would tie him with Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby for most points so far in this year’s playoffs with 17. If the Red Wings are to come back in this series, Franzen is going to have to stay hot and allow Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk the room to get free on the ice. Greiss finished the game making 26 saves on 28 shots in two periods of work. Evgeni Nabokov stopped 4 out of 9 shots he saw in the first. Jimmy Howard came away with 28 saves in the win.
If you’re a Sharks fan, you can take solace in the fact that a huge blowout is generally easier to shrug off than a heartbreaking overtime loss. On the other hand, if it allows Detroit to gather any momentum or plant the seed of doubt in what has proven to be a more mentally tough Sharks team. Of course, the bigger upside for San Jose is knowing that they’re just one win from advancing. It’s the little things that count.
Game 5 will be Saturday night in San Jose.
Injury Note: Wings defenseman Brad Stuart left the game in the first period with a “lower body injury” but coach Mike Babcock said he expects Stuart to play in Game 5.