The Red Wings were missing too much size and too much scoring punch on Thursday. They battled hard until the end, but in the end, they didn’t have enough healthy bodies to overcome a huge deficit.
San Jose prevailed 3-2 in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals, denying Detroit a shot at history, after the Red Wings won three games in a row to climb out of a 0-3 series deficit.
Playing without Johan Franzen because of an ankle injury was tough enough, but then the Wings lost Todd Bertuzzi midway through the first period and Danny Cleary with 5:48 remaining in the second period. Each suffered a concussion.
“We’d like to have had some minutes out of those guys, but that’s hockey,” Coach Mike Babcock said. “You miss those guys, but it was an opportunity for other guys to step up. I thought our guys did a real good job filling in and playing hard and competing. I thought we were on the puck, so I’m proud of our group.”
Bertuzzi was injured while delivering a hit on Dany Heatley as their helmets collided. Cleary was hurt in collision with teammate Jiri Hudler, whose shoulder smacked Cleary’s head.
Bertuzzi and Cleary both appeared woozy and needed some assistance walking out of the dressing room after the game. They would not have been ready for the start of the next round had Detroit advanced.
SHARKS 3, RED WINGS 2: The Wings felt they deserved a better fate, but the Sharks once again found a way to win. Patrick Marleau’s goal at 12:13 of the third period gave San Jose a 3-1 lead and proved to be the winner. Pavel Datsyuk gave his team a chance to win by scoring with 6:01 remaining. The Red Wings, who fell behind 2-0 in the first period, outshot the Sharks 29-13 over the final two periods and 40-30 for the game, but goaltender Antti Niemi was strong. Detroit’s failure to capitalize on any of four power plays proved costly.
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