Late goal keeps Red Wings alive against Sharks

Nicklas Lidstrom can put off pondering retirement for at least a couple more days after the Detroit Red Wings figured out how to beat San Jose in a one-goal game.

Lidstrom scored twice in the first period to help Detroit build a three-goal lead and Darren Helm had the game-winner with 1:27 left, giving the Red Wings a 4-3 win over the Sharks in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals on Friday night.

The 41-year-old defenseman fielded questions the day before about calling it a career when the postseason ends.

"I think he answered that pretty good," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said.

Sharks coach Todd McLellan wasn't surprised because he saw Lidstrom's subtle greatness up close as a Detroit assistant.

"He stepped up and led his team," McLellan said. "That's what captains do. Their captain did. He has a calming affect on his team. He had a helluva night."

Even though Lidstrom, a finalist to win the Norris Trophy for a seventh time, looks like he could play at least a couple more years, he's not ready to even talk about the possibility of staying or going home to Sweden.

"We'll see about that after the season," he said.

The Sharks won the first three games of the second-round rematch by a goal after beating the Red Wings by one goal for a fourth time in Game 5 last year.

"It's a great feeling just finishing on top and finally getting a win," Lidstrom.

The Sharks will take their comfortable lead back home with a chance to advance to the Western finals for the second straight year and third in the franchise's two decades.

"We're going back home still in command up 3-1," San Jose's Ryane Clowe said.

Detroit doesn't feel down and out despite knowing just three teams have won a series after trailing 3-0.

"We think we have an opportunity," Babcock said.

The Red Wings had a chance to win Game 4 in impressive fashion — as they did last year — but couldn't put away San Jose.

Logan Couture had a goal 15 seconds after Lidstrom's second, Dan Boyle scored midway through the middle period to pull San Jose to 3-2, and Dany Heatley tied it early in the third.

"We found a way to claw our way back into it," McLellan said.

Helm put Detroit back ahead for good, scoring from the left circle off a cross-ice pass from Patrick Eaves, who got the puck off a long rebound following Brian Rafalski's shot.

"When I saw the puck, it was on the other side," said San Jose's Antti Niemi, who stopped 26 shots.

Jimmy Howard made 25 saves for Detroit.

The tightly contested series has mirrored last year's matchup between the highly talented, puck-possession teams.

Todd Bertuzzi scored first this time 6:22 in, just as he did last year in Game 4, when he gave Detroit a 1-0 lead at 5:40. The Red Wings went on to win that game 7-1 before getting eliminated in Game 5.

Detroit appeared to be on the way to another blowout after Lidstrom scored twice in the first period to make it 3-0.

"We didn't answer the bell as well as we could've," San Jose forward Joe Pavelski said.

The Sharks, though, refused to get routed.

Couture quieted Joe Louis Arena at 18:16 of the first, and Boyle silenced the fired-up fans when he made it 2-1 at 13:44 of the second.

The Sharks had their first power play 4:12 into the third, shortly after tying the game, but didn't take advantage. San Jose had another power play with 8:25 left and failed to score.

"It was getting hairy near the end," Bertuzzi said.

Bertuzzi started the scoring with a spectacular play, making a 360-degree spin with the puck and beating Niemi with a backhander from the right circle.

From the other circle, Lidstrom's slap shot off a long rebound made it 2-0 midway through the first period. The defenseman got control of a pass with his left skate, whacked the puck out of the air, and bounced it past Niemi.

"We were a desperate team that still wanted to play hockey," Lidstrom said.

Notes: The 2010 Flyers, 1942 Maple Leafs and 1975 Islanders are the only NHL teams to overcome 3-0 deficits to win a best-of-seven series. ... Lidstrom's first goal gave him 181 career playoff points, breaking a second-place tie with Ray Bourque for scoring by a defenseman, and broke an 11th-place tie overall with Jaromir Jagr. ... Clowe assisted on each of San Jose's goals, giving him 12 points to rank among scoring leaders this postseason.