Pavel Datsyuk was not going to be denied at a time when his team’s season was on the line. And it made no difference to him that his wrist was so sore he couldn’t take faceoffs.
Datsyuk picked up three assists, including an individual effort to set up the winning goal, as the Red Wings defeated the Sharks 4-3 in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals.
Few players in the NHL are as strong on the puck as Datsyuk. He showed it in the third period. He outbattled Patrick Marleau for the puck along the boards and then fought off a check to pass to Nicklas Lidstrom. Lidstrom’s shot was tipped in by Tomas Holmstrom with 6:08 remaining in the third period to snap a 3-3 tie.
“He just plays with that determination, that you can’t take that puck away from him,” Lidstrom said. “It’s great to see he’s skating hard with the puck, too, whether it’s forechecking or backchecking. He’s just relentless out there.”
Datsyuk has 13 points (three goals, 10 assists), tying him for the NHL’s scoring lead in the playoffs. The Sharks had no answer for him on Sunday. They must find a way to neutralize him in Game 6 Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena.
RED WINGS 4, SHARKS 3: The Red Wings appeared to have no gas in their tank a minute into the third period. The Sharks had taken a 3-1 lead and had been dominating the game through two periods, outshooting Detroit by a wide margin. But, with their season again on the line, the Wings stormed back with three unanswered goals in the third period. Jimmy Howard was outstanding early, keeping his team in the game, as San Jose outshot Detroit 42-22. Pavel Datsyuk set up three goals. Jonathan Ericsson and Danny Cleary scored 1:46 apart early in the third to tie it. Tomas Holmstrom notched the game-winner with 6:08 to play. Now the pressure squarely is on San Jose as the series returns to Detroit for Game 6 Tuesday with the Sharks leading 3-2.
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