Wild, wild West

Matt Romig

A minute remained in the game, but from Manny Legace's body language – knees glued to the ice, shoulders sagged, eyes staring blankly forward in disbelief – you could tell the Detroit Red Wings' goalie knew it was over.

Ales Hemsky had given the Edmonton Oilers a 4-3 lead on his second goal in the final five minutes, and the margin held up. Detroit was going home, done in by Dwayne Roloson just as Miikka Kiprusoff and Jean-Sebastien Giguere had done in the Wings in recent years.

Hours later the Anaheim Mighty Ducks staved off elimination, rallying to beat the Calgary Flames and force a Game 7.

If the Mighty Ducks can pull off an upset there, the San Jose Sharks will become the top seed out West as the playoffs advance to the conference semifinals. Yes, that's the same San Jose team that wasn't guaranteed a playoff spot until the final weeks of the regular season.

As exhilarating as the third period of Monday's Detroit-Edmonton game was, it was equally sobering as it may have signaled the end of the career of Detroit captain Steve Yzerman after 22 seasons in the NHL.

Yzerman isn't expected to make an announcement until June. Word may come sooner, however. Certainly that original June date was set as to not provide a distraction during Detroit's predicted Stanley Cup run.


If this was Steve Yzerman's last game, it was a typical gritty effort. Detroit's captain was nowhere near 100 percent, but he assisted on Robert Lang's power-play goal and gave the Red Wings 13 inspired minutes.


Scott Niedermayer's second goal of the series was the game-winner for Anaheim. He flicked the puck from behind the Calgary net, and it deflected off a sprawling Rhett Warrener and into the Flames' net. As is Niedermayer's custom, he ate up minutes, logging slightly more than 30 in Game 6. Honorable mention to defense partner Francois Beauchemin, who took on Jarome Iginla in a first-period fight and more than held his own.


Whether Ales Hemsky kicked in the tying goal, tipped it in or just plain willed it in may never be known. What can't be disputed is that he was in the right place at the right time Monday and scored perhaps the two biggest goals of the first round. In the second period, Hemsky had drawn criticism for getting too fancy rather than using his speed to create a 2-on-1 with Sergei Samsonov. Nothing fancy about the tying and winning goals – just hard work.


Say what you want about Manny Legace failing to make the big save for Detroit. Heck, it's probably true. But Monday he was hung out to dry twice by Andreas Lilja. The defenseman was out of position on Fernando Pisani's second goal, and on the game-winner he got turned around and lost sight of Ales Hemsky.


Anaheim got two goals past Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff on Monday – three if you count the goal referee Don Koharski disallowed on a questionable call. Teemu Selanne had scored on a backhander, but Koharski waved it off and called goaltender interference on Joffrey Lupul. Replays indicated that the puck had already crossed the line before Lupul entered the crease, and there also was the matter of whether he was pushed into Kiprusoff.


Game 6: Carolina Hurricanes at Montreal Canadiens (live on Yahoo! Sports): Montreal feels Carolina rookie Cam Ward has been a little too comfortable in his crease. Sunday the Canadiens made a conscious effort to put more bodies in front of Ward, and they were able to generate some scoring chances. Ward was just too good. It'll be the same story Tuesday. If Montreal can get just one or two bounces or deflections to go its way, this series will head back to Carolina for a Game 7.

Game 6: Buffalo Sabres at Philadelphia Flyers: Buffalo has outshot the Flyers in 12 of 15 periods in this series. Some of the numbers are gaudy, like 14-3 in the first period of Game 5, 29-12 in the first two periods of Game 1. The reason: speed, speed, speed. Philadelphia has to find a way to neutralize Buffalo's speed, and that's easier said than done. The home team has won the first five games in this series, so the Flyers do have some hope for forcing a Game 7.



The close-up shot of Manny Legace after Ales Hemsky's go-ahead goal pretty much tells the story of the series. Once again the Red Wings entered a playoff series as the favored team; once again they run into a goalie that's just a little better than their own.