Johan Franzen had to wait a little longer to turn a memorable night into an historic one.
For a few minutes Thursday, the man his Detroit teammates call "Mule" had become only the third player to score 4 goals in one period of a playoff game -- and he had done it faster than either Tim Kerr or Mario Lemieux. All that changed during the first intermission, however, when teammate Todd Bertuzzi was credited with the Wings' first goal.
Franzen did get an assist on the play to go along with his three goals, making him only the 13th player (Lemieux did it twice) to get 4 points in a period. His 3 goals in a span of 3:26 were just two seconds shy of Kerr's record for the fastest three scored in a playoff game. No. 93 did get his fourth goal on a third-period power play, making him only the third Red Wing (along with Carl Liscombe and Ted Lindsay) to get four in a game.
The Wings rode Franzen's big night -- his six points were a team record and the most by any player in a playoff game since Geoff Courtnall in 1998 -- to only the second Game 4 win in 10 tries when trying to avoid elimination after losing the first three games of a series. It was the first time in five tries they did it at home.
Franzen doesn't get the attention the NHL's bigger names do, but "Mule's" offensive numbers over the last two-plus postseasons match up with anyone. Since 2008, he has 31 goals, 58 points and a plus-28 rating.
Franzen has a point in each of Detroit's 11 playoff games this spring, matching a team mark held by Gordie Howe, who had points in the Wings' first 11 playoff games in 1961. Franzen will have a chance to break that mark Saturday when the Wings play the Sharks in Game 5 of their Western Conference Semifinal series (10 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS); Howe's streak ended at 11 games only because the Wings were beaten in Game 6 of the Final that year by Chicago.
Close but no cigar -- Despite their blowout win against San Jose on Thursday, the Red Wings still are one loss from elimination from the Stanley Cup Playoffs -- and part of the reason is their inability to win one-goal games.
Tuesday's 4-3 overtime loss dropped the Wings to 0-4 this postseason in games decided by a single goal, while all five of their wins this spring have come by three or more goals. The Wings were 11-10 in one-goal games over the past two springs, when they went to the Stanley Cup Final twice against Pittsburgh, winning in 2008 and losing last year.
Tuesday's loss was especially painful because it marked the first time in 17 years the Wings blew a two-goal lead at home and lost a playoff game. Detroit led 3-1 with less than 14 minutes to play, but San Jose rallied to force overtime before Patrick Marleau got the game-winner -- ending a streak of 61 consecutive playoff wins at Joe Louis Arena when the Wings had led by at least two goals.
But the blown lead wasn't entirely unexpected -- Detroit lost six games during the regular season in which it led by two or more goals.
The Wings did extend another postseason streak with their win Thursday night. Detroit is now 53-0 when scoring four or more goals in a playoff game. The Wings haven't scored four or more goals and lost in the postseason since a 7-4 loss to Phoenix in Game 2 of the first round, April 24, 1998.
And there is one good omen for the Wings going into Game 5 at the Shark Tank Saturday: They are now 2-0 in elimination games this year, and have outscored their opponents 13-2.
Plus-two -- Despite finishing first in the West, San Jose was among the NHL's poorest teams with a two-man advantage during the regular season. The Sharks scored just once in 10 tries when playing 5-on-3. But they appear to have gotten the kinks out of their two-man power play during the playoffs, scoring three times in four tries during the postseason, all in the current series against Detroit.
Historic blanking -- Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury, a Sorel, Que., native, made some history Tuesday by shutting out the Montreal Canadiens, 2-0, at the Bell Centre in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series.
Fleury became the first visiting goaltender to record a playoff shutout since the Bell Centre opened in 1995. He also ended the Canadiens' streak of 118 home playoff games since being shut out -- a stretch that dated to 1983, when Buffalo's Bob Sauve did it in each of the first two games of that year's playoffs.
That possibility didn't last long Thursday -- Fleury allowed a goal just 2:34 into Game 4 as Montreal evened the series with a 3-2 win.
252 and counting -- Montreal rookie Tom Pyatt became the 252nd player to score a playoff goal for the Canadiens when he beat Fleury early in the first period Thursday. The rookie center is the eighth Canadien to join that list this year.
Sid can't ring the Bell -- Pittsburgh will have one more trip to the Bell Centre this year after Thursday's loss to Montreal, and that is not good news for Sidney Crosby. The Penguins' captain went without a goal in his team's 3-2 loss in Game 4, the ninth consecutive time he hasn't turned on the red light in Montreal. Crosby has just 6 assists (1 Thursday) in those nine games.