Anaheim Ducks left wing Matt Beleskey (39) trips over Detroit Red Wings right wing Daniel Cleary (11) as Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard (35) defends in overtime of Game 4 of a first-round NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoff series in Detroit.
DETROIT - The Detroit Red Wings may have just shifted the tone of a Western Conference quarterfinal series in their favor, and guaranteed that the series will go at least until the end of the week.
Damien Brunner’s goal with 4:50 left in overtime gave the Red Wings a 3-2 win over Anaheim and gave the Red Wings new life.
Brunner trailed Gustav Nyquist on a breakaway goal and after Anaheim goalie Jonas Hiller made the initial save by pokechecking the puck away from Nyquist, the puck banked off Anaheim defenseman Bryan Allen, bounced off Hiller’s left pad and Brunner swept in to pick up the puck and score the game-winning goal Monday at Joe Louis Arena.
“We had a good jump and a shift before, for 90 seconds, they were cycling down low,” Brunner said. “If you’re trading chances, you’re just going to stick with what you’re doing.
“Now, it’s a best-of-three. I thought we had the momentum, too, when we won Game 2 [in Anaheim] but now it’s just keep easy, and try to do the same thing the next game.”
Nyquist started the play when he took an outlet pass from Joakim Andersson and slipped behind a pair of defenders to approach Hiller (46 saves).
“I realized he was standing back and I just tried to get a shot on net, to keep the puck and I had two guys chasing me,” Nyquist said. “I was hoping to get a rebound or something like that.”
Instead of the possibility of facing elimination, Brunner’s tally tied the best-of-seven series at two games a piece - Game 5 is at 10 p.m. Wednesday at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., and Game 6 of the series returns Friday to Detroit.
Monday’s Game 4 of the Western Conference quarterfinal was characteristic of playoff hockey - a tightly-contested, wide-open game in which both goalies played on their toes, save for a defensive miscue early in the third that allowed the Red Wings to tie the game at 1-1.
And it ended with less than five minutes left in overtime on Brunner’s game-winner, his second goal of the playoffs.
“The pokecheck went off Allie [Bryan Allen] and I kind of got a piece of it again, and we ran into each other,” Hiller said. “It’s definitely tough to lose that one. I thought we had our chances.”
Brunner’s overtime goal ended a game in which the Ducks took a 1-0 lead on Matt Beleskey’s first-period goal, then went scoreless in the second before the two teams combined for three goals in the third period.
Niklas Kronwall’s thunderous hit on Ducks center Kyle Palmieri at 11:18 of the first fired up the capacity crowd at Joe Louis Arena, but the Red Wings still couldn’t crack Hiller, who made 13 saves in the first, including a flurry of saves on the Red Wings seconds before Beleskey’s goal.
The constant juggling of Detroit’s top line was ineffective, as well, in the first. Patrick Eaves and Mikael Samuelsson filled in with Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk in the absence of Justin Abdelkader (suspension), but the four produced just six shots on goal in the first - four from Zetterberg and two from Samuelsson.
Anaheim right wing Corey Perry missed a chance to give the Ducks a two-goal lead with eight minutes left in the second, when he shot high of the goal on a pass from David Steckel.
Of their 14 second-period shots on goal, Bertuzzi had two prime scoring chances for the Red Wings midway through the second, and with 4:51 left, Eaves skated in from the right circle and was unable to beat Hiller on a backhand.
Less than two minutes later, Zetterberg picked up the rebound from Jakub Kindl’s shot from the right point, but the redirection skipped high of the goal, holding the Ducks’ lead at 1-0.
Less than 80 seconds into the third, Brendan Smith’s shot from the right point banked off Ducks right wing Corey Perry and Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin and between the skates of a standing Hiller, who was out of position on the play.
But Emerson Etem’s extra tap of David Steckel’s shot into an open net gave the Ducks a 2-1 lead at 10:40 - a goal credited to Steckel - and after Johan Franzen’s apparent goal at 12:41 was waved off (referees and NHL video officials concluded that the puck did not cross the goal line) Pavel Datsyuk tied the game at 2-2 with 6:33 left in regulation on a shot from the left circle that clanked off the goal cage.
Contact Rachel Lenzi at: email@example.com, 419-724-6510 or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.