Detroit stays alive, beats San Jose 4-3 on Darren Helm’s late goal

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It had been years since the Red Wings were swept out of a playoff series. Since 1995 to be exact when the Wings were swept by the Devils in the Stanley Cup final. Going into tonight’s game against San Jose, the Red Wings were staring that fate in the face tonight. With a hot start coupled with a clutch finish, the Red Wings live to see another day after beating the Sharks 4-3 in Game 4.

Detroit got the hot start they were hoping for when they were able to get out to a 3-0 lead in the first period thanks to a goal from Todd Bertuzzi and two goals from Nicklas Lidstrom. As some of the talk leading into tonight’s Game 4 was about whether or not Lidstrom could be playing in his last game, his performance in tonight’s game certainly lends credence to the possibility of Lidstrom continuing on for at least one more year.

Bertuzzi’s goal kicked things off and he did so after getting in a short shouting match with Devin Setoguchi. Bertuzzi returned to the ice to pull off a spinorama and snap a backhand shot past Antti Niemi (36 saves). Lidstrom’s two goals after that included a highlight reel goal in which he kicked the puck up in the air and knocked it out of mid-air to make it 3-0.

Just 15 seconds after that incredible tally, Logan Couture would get a piece of a Ryane Clowe shot that would squirt past Jimmy Howard (25 saves) to get the Sharks on the board late in the first period and get their momentum rolling into the second period. There, Dan Boyle would score at 13:44 of the period to make the Detroit lead a bit more perilous.

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Once the third period rolled around, the Sharks wasted no time in coming back completely from their 3-0 hole as Dany Heatley beat Howard after he had all day to wind up his shot. The game the rest of the way was played on a razor’s edge with teams trading opportunities until 1:27 of the third when Darren Helm put one past Niemi to give the Wings the lead and ultimately the victory.

Detroit got the desperate game they had to have tonight but still had some glaring problems, especially in the second period and for half of the third. It wasn’t a complete 60 minute effort and Couture’s goal in the first period was a killer because it crushed the momentum the Wings got from Lidstrom’s second goal. They’ll need to be better defensively in Game 5 on Sunday night if they want to keep hope alive.

San Jose did themselves a disservice by getting down 3-0 in the first period. Sure, they got back into the game and eventually tied it up but when you’re spending effort for most of the game to get it tied up, that hurts. The Sharks had their chances late but couldn’t contain the Wings when the pressure poured on late. It’s another thin margin of error in this series and it’s the first time it’s gone against San Jose. They’ll need to shake this game off and come out ready on Sunday.

Here are the highlights from Game 4:

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Game 5 will be Sunday night at 8 p.m. ET on Versus.