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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 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38

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