The home team has won each game in the Western Conference quarterfinal series between the Detroit Red Wings and Calgary Flames, who need that trend to continue if they want to force a deciding seventh game.
The Red Wings, meanwhile, will advance to the conference semifinals for the first time since 2004 with a win over the Flames in Game 6 on Sunday night at Pengrowth Saddledome.
Detroit took an emphatic step toward progressing with a 5-1 win on Saturday to take a 3-2 series lead. Daniel Cleary scored on a penalty shot, Henrik Zetterberg added the first of his two power-play goals and Chris Chelios posted a short-handed tally in a 7:22 span of the second period to stake the Red Wings to a 3-0 lead.
Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk added power-play goals in the third around a short-handed marker from the Flames’ Andrei Zyuzin. But the game, and possibly the series, took an ugly turn with 2:59 left when Calgary backup goaltender Jamie McLennan slashed the midsection of Detroit’s Johan Franzen.
“It doesn’t belong in hockey,” said Franzen, who said the slash shocked him more than it hurt.
McLennan—3-5-1 with a 3.60 goals-against average in nine games during the regular season—received a slashing minor, a match penalty and a game misconduct and almost assuredly a suspension from the NHL.
The goaltender refused to speak to the media after the game, but Zetterberg said, “I think the league will take a look at a few things that happened.”
In February, the league handed down a three-game suspension to Ottawa goaltender Ray Emery for slashing Montreal’s Maxim Lapierre in the face. Late in the regular season, Islanders forward Chris Simon received a 25-game ban for a two-handed stick attack on the Rangers’ Ryan Hollweg.
If McLennan is suspended, the Flames would likely recall either Curtis McElhinney or Brent Krahn from Omaha of the AHL to backup Miikka Kiprusoff, who has played better at home so far in the postseason, stopping 61 of 65 shots for a 2.00 GAA. He’s 0-3 with a 4.00 GAA on the road.
Over the last three years, Kiprusoff is 2-3 with a 1.73 goals-against average in Game 6s. Both wins came at home, including a 38-save shutout of the Red Wings en route to a 1-0 overtime win on May 3, 2004.
Calgary has managed only nine goals in this series, but won Games 3 and 4 by identical 3-2 scores. To force a Game 7, the Flames will need more production from Kristian Huselius, who enjoyed a breakout season with career highs of 34 goals and 43 assists, but has managed only two assists.
The Red Wings’ Zetterberg also had an assist Saturday for his first three-point game in the postseason. Datsyuk’s goal was his third to lead the team.
If necessary, Game 7 is scheduled for Tuesday night in Detroit, where the Red Wings have outscored the Flames 12-3 in their three wins.