Before Valtteri Filppula broke out his slump, the Detroit Red Wings forward felt a thud.
"(Logan Couture) shot it at me and it stung a bit in my hand," Filppula told Ansar Khan of mlive.com. "It was good to get it, and then (Pavel) Datsyuk just made a great play. When you are playing with him, you know there’s always a chance (you’ll get the puck back).”
The sequence that started when Filppula picked off the laxideasical dump in by Couture ended with a one-timer past a fellow Finn, Sharks goalie Antii Niemi. The goal gave the Detroit Red Wings the lead en route to a 3-1 victory at Joe Louis Arena on Tuesday night.
"Bad play by (Couture),” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. “He’d like to have that one back. You know it's a bad play when the player is actually standing still and doesn’t have to move to pick him off.”
It was Filppula first goal of the series --- he netted his first point on Henrik Zetterberg’s equalizer a couple minutes earlier --- and it couldn’t have come at a more crucial time for the Red Wings, who are now even with the Sharks after dropping the first three games of the series.
“I thought he really stepped it up tonight,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “He made some good plays. That was a great play by him individually. He’s an important guy for us. He probably feels great about himself, which is important and that will help us be better in Game 7.”
Babcock was looking for a forward to step up in place of the injured Johan Franzen, who was a scratch after it became clear in Game 5 he could barely skate due to the ankle injury suffered in the first round. Veteran Mike Modano got into the lineup in place of Franzen, but Filppula was among the forwards who saw more ice time. He skated 18 minutes, two seconds, nearly three minutes more than Game 5.
The Red Wings outshot the Sharks, 45-25, although Detroit was unable to solve Niemi until Filppula rushed through center ice and into San Jose’s zone. He found an open Niklas Kronwall, who fired a slap shot that Zetterberg deflected over Niemi’s glove.
-- A.J. Perez