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Physical play set Game 6 tone for Wings

Wednesday, 05.11.2011 / 12:12 AM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com
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Physical play set Game 6 tone for Wings
DETROIT – It’s not every day that a player does acrobatics during a game – at least not on purpose.

But when the physicality of a playoff game hits a fever pitch – as it did throughout the Red Wings’ 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks – anything is possible, including a summersault by Wings forward Tomas Holmstrom.

In the closing seconds of the second period, Holmstrom ripped a shot from the slot that was stopped by goalie Antti Niemi. But during his follow-through, Holmstrom was simultaneously clabbered by a sub-marining hit by Sharks center Torrey Mitchell, causing the Wings’ forward to windmill through the air.

That was one of 58 collisions in a contentiously played game that was scoreless after 40 minutes of heart-stopping action.

Even Pavel Datsyuk, who only had 54 hits in 56 games this season, got into Tuesday’s hit parade, collecting three of the Red Wings’ 31 hits. He even received an uncharacteristic roughing penalty for a scrap with Mitchell following a whistle in the second period.

“Well I just think that’s the way it’s going to be,” Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “The longer you get in a series, more emotions come out and the more physical it will get.”

Another big hit occurred on the first period when San Jose defenseman Douglas Murray wrapped Danny Cleary head-first into the dashboards near the Sharks’ bench. Cleary skated back to the bench, where it looked as if he was a little woozy.

“Yeah it was physical,” Cleary said. “Both teams realized what was at stake. San Jose knows if you go seven it’s anybody’s game while we’re just fighting for our lives. It was a big win for us, to say the least.”
Murray, who had three hits, said, “I think it’s been physical since Game 1. It’s playoffs, it’s physical against all teams. You get players who are not normally physical during the regular-season playing physical in the playoffs, it’s just natural in these games. It’s nothing abnormal.”

The hitting in this Western Conference semifinal had already been extreme. But in Game 6, players definitely ratcheted up the physical nature of things, as the Sharks tried to end the series, and the Wings were hoping to force a returned trip to San Jose for Game 7.

“It was picked up, and I think with each game the intensity has picked up,” said Sharks captain Joe Thornton, who had two of his team’s 27 hits. “It’s tight out there and the battle level is up. And I expect that it will get even higher for Game 7.”

The winner of Thursday’s Game 7 at HP Pavilion will advance to face the top-seeded Vancouver Canucks in the Western Conference finals, which is slated to start Sunday.

NEAR NIGHTMARE: Six minutes into the second period, Cleary skated in alone on Niemi. The Wings forward made a deke which fooled Niemi and had the Sharks’ goalie sliding to his left, but Cleary slid a shot that struck the right post.

“Yeah that would have haunted me for a while,” Cleary said. “I saw the empty net and I don’t know what happened, the puck just moved I think and went on its edge and hit the side of the post there.”

SHARK-BITTEN: The Sharks don’t care much for the predicament that they find themselves in following three straight losses to the Wings.

“We have to forget about tonight and just get ready for Game 7,” Thornton said. “We thought that we could steal one tonight, especially when you score that one goal. But we didn’t.

“Before this series you thought these teams were (seeded) 2 and 3 and so you thought it would go six or seven. It’s been a great series so far. And 25 other teams would love to be in this position right now. It’s too bad that we could finish, but we’ll try and do it in front of our home fans back home.”

DertroitRedWings.com Intern Dave Burke contributed to this report.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 54 40 10 4 178 124 84
2 FLA 56 32 18 6 153 132 70
3 NYR 55 31 18 6 157 140 68
4 BOS 55 30 19 6 163 150 66
5 DET 55 28 18 9 138 134 65
6 TBL 54 30 20 4 144 130 64
7 NYI 54 29 19 6 153 137 64
8 PIT 54 28 19 7 139 136 63
9 NJD 56 28 21 7 124 124 63
10 CAR 56 25 21 10 137 146 60
11 PHI 54 24 20 10 128 140 58
12 MTL 56 27 25 4 151 151 58
13 OTT 57 25 26 6 159 177 56
14 CBJ 57 23 28 6 144 175 52
15 BUF 56 22 28 6 131 155 50
16 TOR 54 20 25 9 127 151 49

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
D. Larkin 54 18 20 25 38
H. Zetterberg 55 10 28 5 38
T. Tatar 54 16 17 -1 33
G. Nyquist 55 14 16 -1 30
P. Datsyuk 40 9 21 14 30
J. Abdelkader 55 14 15 -2 29
M. Green 47 4 17 -7 21
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
B. Richards 41 5 11 6 16
D. DeKeyser 51 7 8 12 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 21 10 5 .933 1.94
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89