DETROIT - Being down 3-0 in their series against the San Jose Sharks, the Detroit Red Wings had a heavy burden to carry, so they called on their Mule.
Johan Franzen, nicknamed "Mule" in Hockeytown, posted a hat trick in the first period and added another goal in the third as the Wings rolled to a 7-1 rout last night in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals at Joe Louis Arena.
Franzen's four goals tied him for first in franchise history for most goals scored in a playoff game with Carl Liscombe (1945, vs. Boston) and Ted Lindsay (1955, vs. Montreal).
"When you score a couple, you get confident," Franzen said. "But this is one game, and we need to win three more."
The series now shifts to Game 5 in San Jose tomorrow night.
"The guys were ready to play, and Mule put some shots in the net," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "We'll enjoy this one tonight and then get back at it at 2 tomorrow."
Todd Bertuzzi and Valtteri Filppula also scored in the frenetic first period as Detroit went into intermission with a commanding
San Jose goaltender Evgeni Nabokov did not return in the second after letting in five of the nine shots he faced, but backup Thomas Greiss didn't fare much better.
Greiss got a rude welcome when Brian Rafalski scored on the powerplay just 3:05 into the period. Bertuzzi sent a cross-ice pass over to Rafalski, and he ripped a slapshot that beat Greiss stick-side. Franzen also assisted on the goal, giving him his fifth point of the night.
Franzen nearly had four goals in the first period, but his first marker ended up being credited to Bertuzzi after replays showed Franzen's shot from the left circle deflected off Bertuzzi and through Nabokov's legs.
"When they announced [the scoring change] in the arena, I thought I was going to get booed out here," Bertuzzi said with a laugh.
Franzen left no doubt on Detroit's next goal, however, when he backhanded home a rebound while falling down after a shot from Henrik Zetterberg on a give-and-go with 12:10 left in the first.
Then at the 9:16 mark, Bertuzzi froze the San Jose defense with a drop pass to Franzen, who sniped a shot from just inside the left circle over the glove of Nabokov.
Franzen capped off his sensational first period with 8:44 to play. Zetterberg tried to chip the puck deep into the Sharks' zone, but defenseman Dan Boyle batted it back out to the blue line. Franzen then picked it up and fired a shot on goal, then followed his rebound and beat Nabokov five-hole to give Detroit a 4-0 lead.
It took just 3:26 for Franzen to score his hat trick, which is the second-fastest time for a player scoring three goals in NHL playoff history. He also broke the franchise record for most points in a playoff game with six.
"We came out like the desperate team that we had to be," Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "Mule got hot, and it was great to see him step up like that."
Things continued to spiral out of control for San Jose from there. Filppula's pass intended for Tomas Holmstrom behind the net instead got redirected out front and went off Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray's skate past Nabokov with 1:10 remaining.
"I haven't talked to the guys yet, but if I had to go in there right now and talk to them, [I'd say] shame on them," San Jose coach Todd McLellan said. "We're all disappointed, and I haven't used that word around our hockey club in over a month.
"Maybe this spanking will wake us up."
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Being down 3-0 in their series against the San Jose Sharks, the Detroit Red Wings had a heavy burden to carry, so they called on their Mule.