Franzen's epic effort keeps Wings alive
|San Jose Sharks Official Podcast
Johan Franzen really doesn't want to go home for the summer.
The power forward recorded a natural hat trick and briefly was credited with four goals in the first period as the Detroit Red Wings staved off elimination Thursday night with a 7-1 victory against the San Jose Sharks in Game 4 of this Western Conference Semifinal at Joe Louis Arena.
Not to be denied, Franzen did score his fourth goal of the night via the power play in the third period. In all, he had six points -- a new record for the Original Six franchise (Norm Ullman and Steve Yzerman each had five) -- in one of the more remarkable postseason performances of all-time.
Indeed, it was another tremendous showing by the Red Wings in an elimination game. In the two contests played in these playoffs with its season on the line, Detroit has outscored its opponents 13-2.
San Jose, which holds a 3-1 lead in this best-of-seven series, gets its second crack at advancing to the Western Conference Finals when the teams meet on Saturday night at HP Pavilion. The Sharks had won their last six games.
Franzen, who entered with a 10-game points streak, also added two assists. All three of his goals came in a span of 3:26 during the first period. Had the game's opening goal not been changed in Todd Bertuzzi's favor, Franzen would have tied Tim Kerr (1985) and Mario Lemieux (1989) with four straight goals in a playoff game.
It was the second-fastest three goals by a single player in NHL postseason history. Kerr's hat trick against the New York Rangers on April 13, 1985, was notched in 2:24. The last player to get four goals in a playoff game was Anaheim's Joffrey Lupul, who scored all of his team's goals in the Ducks' 4-3 overtime win against Edmonton on May 9, 2006.
"I don't think I have," Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said when asked if he'd ever seen anything like what Franzen accomplished against the Sharks. "With a guy being that hot for five, six minutes -- playing so well, shooting the puck, hitting the corners. It's great to see for our team."
Detroit struck first when Bertuzzi scored on the power play 5:40 into the game. After Dwight Helminen
was whistled for tripping, Bertuzzi parked himself in front of the net and redirected Franzen's wrister from the left circle past Evgeni Nabokov as Detroit took a 1-0 lead. The goal was originally credited to Franzen, but was properly changed during the first intermission.
But Franzen was just getting started. He doubled the Wings' lead just 2:10 later, when he collected Henrik Zetterberg's rebound and poked a turnaround backhander past Nabokov for his fourth goal of the playoffs. He made it 3-0 at 10:44 of the first, as he took a nifty pass from Bertuzzi and ripped a wrist shot from the left circle that beat Nabokov high and to the far side to make it 3-0.
"The Mule" completed the natural hat trick at 11:16, when he put his own rebound past Nabokov to make it 4-0. Filppula then made it 5-0 in the final minute of the first period when his shot from the left corner went off the skate of Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray
and past Nabokov. Filppula was credited with his fourth goal of the playoffs.
Nabokov was pulled prior to the start of the second period. He allowed five goals on nine shots in the opening 20 minutes.
The change didn't help the Sharks, as Brian Rafalski scored on the power play just 3:05 into the second period. After Helminen was hit with his second penalty of the night, Rafalski took a cross-ice feed from Bertuzzi and one-timed a laser past Thomas Greiss
to make it 6-0.
Heatley got San Jose on the board at 19:11 of the second period, when he took a pass from Joe Thornton
and fired a rocket from the slot past Jimmy Howard for a power-play tally. It was Heatley's second goal of the playoffs.
Detroit lost defenseman Brad Stuart in the first period due to a hip check by San Jose captain Rob Blake
in the neutral zone. The Red Wings said Stuart suffered a lower-body injury.
Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL
Shift of the Game: Johan Franzen was in a class by himself in the first period, but he, Todd Bertuzzi and Henrik Zetterberg did some nice work midway through that led to Franzen's second goal of the night off a nifty pass by Bertuzzi at 10:43. It gave Detroit a 3-0 lead.
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