Darren Eliot
Monday May 11th, 2009

The score was closer than the game. The Detroit Red Wings controlled everything but the scoreboard for most of this matchup, yet after getting up 2-0 in the second period, they saw the Anaheim Ducks push back with a Ryan Whitney power-play goal.

At that point, one could have made the argument that the game was in doubt, but the Red Wings didn't waver. They continued to press and skate and control the puck. So, no matter the score, the Wings didn't let any doubt creep in.

Their reward? Darren Helm netted his first of the playoffs to make it 3-1 before Henrik Zetterberg sunk an empty-netter to make it official at 4-1 (BOX | RECAP). So much for being haunted by that disallowed goal in Game 3.

The Red Wings never really let the Ducks get going. They outshot them 14-3 in the first, and only goaltender Jonas Hiller's heroics kept the game scoreless. Hiller immediately answered questions concerning his capacity to bounce back after a wobbly Game 4 outing. He was under control while under siege. He did what goalies are supposed to do, which is give their team a chance to win.

But stellar goaltending wasn't nearly enough. The defense looked a step slow under the constant pressure of the free-wheeling Red Wings. And Ryan Getzlaf certainly is ailing. If he is sick, as the Ducks are saying, that would explain a lot, particularly the lack of energy exuded in any facet of his game. For as dominant as Getzlaf was through Game 4, he was just as invisible in Games 4 and 5. His malaise spread through the entire roster.

And to the degree that the Ducks' best forward was off his game, Detroit's trio of Valtteri Filppula-Johan Franzen-Marian Hossa remained in top form. Franzen scored again in this one -- his third goal in two games -- and the line continuously put pressure on the defense with their ferocious forecheck. Zetterberg, again playing with Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom -- continued to elevate his effort, going 1-2-3 on the evening.

In the end, the Red Wings had it going on and the Ducks had nothing. Is that a telltale sign heading back to Anaheim? The Ducks are down 3-2, but are they out as well? Hard to say, but this disparity has been going on longer than one might imagine. Go back to the final period of Game 2. The Wings lost that game in triple overtime even though they dominated the shot clock and puck possession for the better part of that contiguous 60-minute stretch. After a slow start in Game 4, they revved up the offense to dominant range -- just like in this one.

If you're searching for signs of a differing outcome in Game 6, consider the Red Wings recent history away from Detroit. Their last eight series have been road closeouts. You have to go all the way back to their winning the Stanley Cup in 2002 to find the last time they won a series at home.

In other words, the Ducks need to dust off the proverbial drawing board and come up with something energetic by Tuesday night or it's likely lights out.

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