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Franzen nets four goals, six points as Wings crush Sharks

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Associated Press
5/7/2010 12:47:21 AM
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DETROIT -- The Detroit Red Wings have been at their best when facing elimination.

Detroit beat the Sharks 7-1 in Game 4 of their second-round series Thursday night to avoid a sweep. Detroit earlier dominated Phoenix 6-1 in Game 7 of the first round.

"I don't have an answer," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said.

San Jose didn't have one for Johan Franzen.

Franzen had a natural hat trick in a 3:26 span of the first period, scored a fourth goal in the third and set a team playoff record with six points.

"We have to win three more games," he said. "You can't get too excited right now."

The Sharks are heading into Game 5 on Saturday night at home with another chance to advance to the Western Conference finals for the second time in franchise history and first since 2004.

"Maybe this spanking will wake us up to know we're not out of the woods," San Jose coach Todd McLellan said. "I'm saying it. We have to respond to it."

Franzen bounced back from scoring just twice in the first 10 playoff games by doubling his previous total.

"Hopefully, I can get some confidence and the team can get some confidence," Franzen said. "I've been struggling on the goal-scoring side."

The six-foot-three, 222-pound forward known as "Mule" scored 25 times the previous two post-seasons for the two-time defending Western Conference champions.

"He came to play," McLellan said. "He's a huge man and that's why they call him Mule. That's not something we're not aware of."

Franzen was originally credited with scoring the first goal 5:40 in, but the goal was changed to Todd Bertuzzi, who finished with a playoff career-high five points. That scoring change prevented Franzen from tying the NHL playoff record with four goals in a period.

Valtteri Filppula put Detroit ahead 5-0 late in the first period on a shot that went off San Jose defenceman Douglas Murray and effectively ended goalie Evgeni Nabokov's night.

"There were three or four mistakes that led to each goal," Nabokov said.

He made just four saves in the first period and was replaced by Thomas Greiss, who let the second shot he faced get past him off Brian Rafalski's one-timer.

Detroit scored six straight goals in the first 23:05 of the game, a flurry of unanswered goals in the second-fastest stretch to start an NHL playoff game. Montreal scored six 21:19 into a 1954 playoff game before Boston had a goal.

"We weren't ready to play this game," Nabokov said. "We need to get that desperation in our game."

Dany Heatley scored for San Jose on a 5-on-3 power play with 48.5 seconds left in the second period to make it 6-1.

Jimmy Howard was solid, making 28 saves, after three straight shaky performances. The Sharks scored four goals in each of their first three wins in the series.

"He played well early when he had to," Babcock said.

Franzen, who had two assists, broke the team playoff record of five points that Steve Yzerman and Norm Ullman shared. He tied the team mark for goals in a playoff game, matching the record Carl Liscombe set in 1945 and Ted Lindsay equaled in 1955.

"He had some really good speed in the neutral zone and when the Mule's got speed like that, he's basically untouchable," Bertuzzi said.

Franzen almost set an NHL playoff record for quickest, three-goal flurry. Tim Kerr of the Flyers scored three of his four goals 3:24 apart in a period on April 13, 1985, against the New York Rangers.

"When you score you get some confidence," Franzen said. "Then, it's easier when you get some chances."

The Sharks, who won six straight in the playoffs until the stunning rout, will get up to three chances to knock out Detroit.

"We're all disappointed," McLellan said. "I haven't used that word around our hockey club in a month."

NOTES: Detroit D Brad Stuart left the game in the first period with a lower body injury, but Babcock expects him to play in Game 5 ... Greiss gave up two goals on 28 shots. ... Detroit has won 53 straight playoff games when it scores at least four goals. ... Anaheim's Joffrey Lupul was the last player to score four goals in an NHL playoff game in 2006 against Colorado.

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