Detroit refuses to take fast exit
San Jose is unable to pull off a sweep
DETROIT — The Red Wings figured out a way to be on the winning side of a one-goal game against the San Jose Sharks.
For Detroit, it was about time.
Darren Helm scored with 1:27 left, lifting the Red Wings to an elimination-avoiding 4-3 win over San Jose in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinal series last night.
“For us it was an overtime game, a game we obviously had to win,’’ Helm said.
The Sharks won the first three games of the second-round rematch by a goal after beating the Red Wings by one goal for a fourth time in Game 5 last year.
“It’s a great feeling just finishing on top and finally getting a win,’’ said captain Nicklas Lidstrom, who scored twice in the first period to give Detroit a three-goal lead that slipped away.
The Sharks will take their 3-1 series lead back to San Jose with a chance to advance on Sunday night to the NHL’s final four.
“We have an opportunity to win at home,’’ coach Todd McLellan said. “We’re going to learn from this one and we’re going to be better.’’
Detroit is trying to become the fourth NHL team to win a series after trailing 3-0.
“We think we have an opportunity,’’ Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said.
The Red Wings had a chance to win Game 4 big as they did last year, but couldn’t put away San Jose.
Logan Couture had a goal 15 seconds after Lidstrom’s second, Dan Boyle scored midway through the middle period to pull San Jose within 3-2, and Dany Heatley tied it early in the third.
“I like the fact that we were resilient when we weren’t playing real well,’’ McLellan said. “We found a way to claw our way back into it.’’
Helm put Detroit ahead for good, scoring from the left circle off a cross-ice pass from Patrick Eaves, who got the puck off a long rebound following Brian Rafalski’s shot.
“When I saw the puck, it was on the other side,’’ said San Jose’s Antti Niemi, who stopped 26 shots.
Jimmy Howard made 25 saves for the win.
Todd Bertuzzi scored first 6:22 in to give Detroit a 1-0 lead.
Detroit appeared to be on the way to a blowout win after Lidstrom scored twice in the first period to make it 3-0.
“We didn’t answer the bell as well as we could’ve,’’ San Jose forward Joe Pavelski said.
The Sharks, though, refused to get routed.
Couture quieted Joe Louis Arena at 18:16 of the first, and Boyle silenced the fired-up fans when he made it 2-1 at 13:44 of the second.
The Sharks had their first power play 4:12 into the third, shortly after tying the game, but didn’t take advantage. San Jose had another power play with 8:25 left and failed to score.
In front of a standing crowd, Detroit made the big play in the heart-pounding final minutes to avoid elimination.