ANAHEIM, Calif. – Johan Franzen and Marian Hossa gave the Detroit Red Wings all they offence they needed on a new line with centre Valterri Filppula.
Franzen and Hossa each scored twice to help the Detroit beat the Anaheim Ducks 6-3 on Thursday night, tying the Western Conference semifinal series at two games each. After Franzen – dubbed “The Mule” by his teammates – scored two first-period goals, Hossa broke a 2-2 tie with goals in a 3:05 span of the second period.
Franzen added an assist, and Filppula had two assists.
Mikael Samuelsson also scored and Henrik Zetterberg added an empty-netter to help the Stanley Cup champion Red Wings regain momentum in the series.
“We got our goals a little bit easier, we played with high tempo,” Franzen said. “We need things like that to break down that goalie, so we did a great job tonight.”
Game 5 is Sunday in Detroit, and Game 6 is Tuesday night in Anaheim.
The Red Wings may have found an effective scoring trio just at the right time.
“For whatever reason, we seemed to get a spark from that line,” said Detroit coach Mike Babcock, who decided to give the new combination a shot in the first period. “I figured it was time to change things up.”
The early returns were highly favourable.
While Chris Osgood was making 25 saves for Detroit, the Red Wings were able to chase Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller after Samuelsson’s goal early in the third.
Hiller, who had made 59 saves in the Ducks’ 4-3 triple-overtime win in Game 2 and 45 saves in a 2-1 victory in Game 3, allowed five goals on 33 shots before being replaced by Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
“They just outplayed us,” Hiller said. “It was probably our worst playoff game we have played so far.”
Corey Perry had two goals and an assist for Anaheim. Scott Niedermayer also scored, and Ryan Getzlaf had two assists.
The Ducks certainly got the start they were looking for.
Perry took a feed from Chris Pronger and swiftly moved down the right wing before whisking a slap shot inside the far post just 42 seconds after the opening faceoff.
Anaheim continued to control play, building a 5-1 shot advantage before the Red Wings got on track.
Franzen tied it, beating Hiller with a quick wrist shot from the high slot off a drop pass from Filppula.
“The first goal was a goal that should have never gone into the net,” Ducks coach Randy Carlye said. “We weren’t just good enough as a team and goaltending is part of the team and that’s the bottom line. We weren’t good enough.”
Franzen scored his second goal by deflecting in Niklas Kronwall’s point shot with 36 seconds remaining in the first to make it 2-1.
Franzen has shown a significant ability to raise his game in the post-season.
During the Red Wings’ championship run last year, the Swede scored 12 goals in his first 12 playoff games before sustaining a concussion against Dallas. After missing six games, he scored a goal in the Cup finals.
Wasting little time returning to that form this season, Franzen leads Detroit with six post-season goals and he generated at least a point in each of the Red Wings’ first six playoff games before being shutdown by the Ducks in Game 3.
Franzen responded Thursday with his first multigoal game of this post-season. He had three multigoal games, including two three-goal games last year.
“It seems like he’s one of the best right now when he’s around the net,” Hossa said. “He’s got a great touch right around the crease. He’s big and strong and fights for the puck and he gets it.”
After Perry scored his second goal at 11:03 of the second to tie it at 2, Hossa then put a wrist shot from the right circle inside the post to Hiller’s left for his first goal of the series, giving Detroit a 3-2 lead with 3:58 to go in the second.
“Mule made a nice pass to me in the high slot and that’s the position where I usually like to shoot,” Hossa said. “It’s always nice after a couple of games when you don’t score to get one.”
Working on a power play 3:05 later, Hossa drilled a slap shot from the right point past Hiller to give Detroit its first two-goal lead of the series.
Notes: Defenceman Brett Festerling moved into the Anaheim lineup in place of James Wisniewski, who bruised a lung when hit by a slap shot in Game 3. Wisniewski was hospitalized overnight and released Wednesday. He will begin riding a stationary bike Friday and hopes to play in Game 5. … Brian Rafalski (upper body), Kris Draper (upper body) and Andreas Lilja (concussion) remained absent from the Detroit lineup.