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GAME: Calgary Flames at Detroit Red Wings.
PLAYOFF SERIES: Western Conference semifinals; series tied 2-2.
TIME: Saturday, 3 p.m. EDT.
Simply outclassing the opposition has often been good enough for the Detroit Red Wings. They can't just rely on that against the Calgary Flames.
The Red Wings must again outwork the pesky Flames in Game 5 if they want to avoid going back to Calgary facing elimination.
Detroit's overall level of talent is considered to be much greater than its counterpart in this series, but Calgary has made things interesting through grit and determination.
The top-seeded Red Wings displayed some of those same characteristics Thursday in evening this series at two games apiece, bouncing back after blowing a two-goal lead and winning 4-2 at the Pengrowth Saddledome.
"We wanted to match their work ethic and even exceed it," said Detroit goaltender Curtis Joseph, who celebrated his 37th birthday by making 25 saves. "There was a lot of passion, no question, everybody came to play and everybody sacrificed for the team."
Calgary had all the momentum heading into the final period after Martin Gelinas and Ville Nieminen scored 18 seconds apart in the second to forge a 2-2 tie. However, the Red Wings stormed back as they controlled much of the final period, with Mathieu Dandenault scoring the game-winner at 10:02 of the third and Henrik Zetterberg adding an empty-netter.
"They outgrinded us and outsmarted us and ended up getting a few goals," Flames defenseman Jordan Leopold said. "They battled hard and ended up getting themselves a win."
Calgary, though, has reason to feel confident going into Detroit. The Flames won at Joe Louis Arena to open this series, and nearly came back to win Thursday despite falling behind 2-0 in the first 23 minutes.
The Red Wings know winning this contest is critical because if the Flames win, they would return home for Game 6 on Monday night with a chance to wrap up the series.
"We have a good home record and we play well there so with the fans back at the Joe we believe we can turn it up a notch," Joseph said.
A big key for the Red Wings will be shutting down Jarome Iginla.
The Hart Trophy finalist led Calgary to victory in Game 3 as he scored despite having his helmet knocked off, but that is his only goal in the series. Iginla has just two points through four games after totaling eight in the first round.
"They played very well, they came out right from the start and they had a lot of momentum," Iginla said. "They were skating quicker then before. They're a very good club and we know we can be better."
The Flames would like to get better with the man advantage. They did not score in two opportunities Thursday and are 1-for-14 in the series.
Detroit is 3-for-15 on the power play through four games.
With many of their top scorers struggling, the Red Wings got offense from some unusual sources in Game 4. The goals by Dandenault, Kirk Maltby and Boyd Deveraux were all their first of the postseason.
"We wanted to come out with a better effort and I thought we did," Maltby said. "Everyone did a great job. We did a better job of breaking their cycling up and getting the puck into their zone. In the third period, it really paid off with a couple of shifts that ended up in the goal."
Pavel Datsyuk, who led Detroit with 30 goals during the regular season, has yet to score in the playoffs. Brendan Shanahan, who had 25 goals this season, also has no goals in this series.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Flames - 6th seed; beat Vancouver Canucks 4-3, quarterfinals. Red Wings - 1st seed; beat Nashville Predators 4-2, quarterfinals.
PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Flames - Iginla, 6 goals and 10 points; Craig Conroy, 6 assists; Nieminen, 29 PIM. Red Wings - Robert Lang, 4 goals and 9 points; Datsyuk, 6 assists; Shanahan, 20 PIM.
PLAYOFF SPECIAL TEAMS: Flames - Power play: 13.0 percent (7 for 54). Penalty killing: 79.6 percent (43 for 54). Red Wings - Power play: 11.4 percent (5 for 44). Penalty killing: 95.3 percent (41 for 43).
GOALTENDERS: Flames - Miikka Kiprusoff (6-5, 1 SO, 2.30 GAA); Roman Turek (no appearances). Red Wings - Joseph (4-2, 1, 1.58); Manny Legace (2-2, 2.18).
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