Valtteri Filppula scored the game-winning goal and added an assist as the Detroit Red Wings beat the San Jose Sharks 3-1 on Tuesday night at Joe Louis Arena and have a chance to become the fourth team in NHL history to come back from a 3-0 series deficit.
Filppula’s goal at 12:32 of the third gave the Wings their first lead of the game and one they would not relinquish. Pavel Datsyuk found Filppula with a nifty backhand pass and he rifled it past Niemi for Detroit’s second goal in less than two minutes.
Prior to the game-winner, Filppula was able to deftly finagle his way into the offensive zone and found a streaking Niklas Kronwall, who blasted a slap shot that was deflected by Zetterberg to open the scoring for Detroit at 10:38.
Zetterberg, who missed all of Detroit’s first round series against the Phoenix Coyotes, has a goal and five assists his last four games.
The Sharks tallied the game’s first goal at 3:54 of the third when Howard yielded a huge rebound on a weak Dany Heatley shot and Couture knocked the puck just inches past the goal line to give the Sharks a 1-0 lead. The 22-year-old rookie is now tied for the team lead in playoff goals with five.
San Jose played without forward Ryane Clowe, who suffered an upper-body injury in Game 5. Clowe leads the team with 13 points this post-season.
Detroit’s Johan Franzen also missed the game after re-injuring his left ankle in Game 5.
The Wings were the aggressor for much of the opening frame, outshooting the Sharks 18-6.
However, the Wings had nothing to show for the decided edge in early play, largely due to the outstanding performance of Niemi. The San Jose netminder stifled Detroit on several quality scoring opportunities, keeping the score even heading into the second period.
Detroit again held the pace of play in the second but they were unable to solve Niemi once again.
Danny Cleary had the best chance of the period, as he was sprung on a breakaway exiting the penalty box. Cleary had Niemi beat on a deke attempt but was unable to avoid the post, keeping the score tied heading into the third period.
The puck drops for Game 7 on Thursday night in San Jose.