The Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators are set for the Eastern Conference Finals. Now Anaheim awaits the winner of the Detroit-San Jose series to set the Western Conference matchup. The Red Wings own the advantage now at 3-2 and can wrap it up tonight out west at the Shark's HP Pavilion. Can Kirk Maltby, Dominik Hasek and the Wings close it out?
The Anaheim Ducks will find out who they’ll face in the Western Conference final if the Detroit Red Wings can knock off the San Jose Sharks tonight in Game 6 of their opening-round series.
The Red Wings took a 3-2 series lead on Saturday with a 4-1 victory over the Sharks in Detroit. The Sharks got on the board quickly in that game with an early first-period goal from Marcel Goc, but Dominik Hasek shut the door on the Sharks the rest of the way.
While Hasek was stonewalling the Sharks, the Red Wings were rattling San Jose netminder Evgeni Nabokov. Henrik Zetterberg got the Wings on the board in the second period, while Pavel Datsyuk gave Detroit the lead after getting a gift from Nabokov. The San Jose goalie never looked the same in the loss after attempting to clear the puck up the ice and instead handing it right to Datsyuk who buried it into the open net.
The Red Wings’ dangerous power play took care of the rest of the game, as Mikael Samuelsson and Tomas Holmstrom both scored with the man-advantage in the third period. Zetterberg and Datsyuk got in the on act on both goals with a pair of assists.
Even though they took the series lead with the win, the Red Wings did receive some bad news on Saturday night. Defensemen Mathieu Schneider was knocked out of the game with a broken wrist and he’ll be sidelined for the rest of the playoffs. Schneider was fourth in playoff points for the Red Wings with two goals and four assists.
The Sharks were also down a man due to injury in Saturday’s game. Bill Guerin suffered a brutal cut to his face after getting hit with a puck in Game 4. It isn’t known yet if the injury will keep him out Monday night as well. Guerin has been a complete bust for San Jose so far in the playoffs with no goals and only two assists, while registering a minus-two rating.
The Sharks should look forward to going home for this game. San Jose was undefeated at HP Pavilion in the playoffs before falling to Detroit 3-2 in overtime in Game 4. If the Sharks don’t want Monday night’s game to be their last game of the season they’ll have to take the lead early and figure out how to hold on to it. The Sharks have blown the lead in all three of their losses in this series and that includes blowing a 2-0 lead in both Game 2 and Game 4. Those represent missed opportunities for the Sharks, and the Red Wings could close them out tonight.