Red Wings live to fight another day

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Cleary’s goal part of Detroit rally in Game 5; Clowe moves into tie for playoff scoring lead

San Jose Sharks’ goalie Antti Niemi (31) catches makes a glove-hand save as Detroit Red Wings’ forward Daniel Cleary (11) watches during the first period of Game 5 of their NHL Western Conference semifinal in San Jose, Calif., on Sunday. Cleary scored one of three third-period goals as the Wings rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win 4-3 and extend the best-of-seven-series. The Sharks lead 3-2 in games heading into the next contest, Tuesday in Detroit. — Photo by The Associated Press

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Tomas Holmstrom broke a tie with 6:08 remaining, and the Detroit Red Wings had three third-period goals to avoid elimination with a 4-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Sunday night.

Danny Cleary and Jonathan Ericsson also scored in the final period to send the series back to Detroit for Game 6 on Tuesday night. After winning the first three games, San Jose is clinging to a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski and Devin Setoguchi scored to help the Sharks take a 3-1 lead early in the third period. Then the Red Wings scored two quick goals before Holmstrom redirected the winner past Antti Niemi.

Niklas Kronwell also scored, and Jimmy Howard made 39 saves for Detroit.

The Red Wings took a huge step toward adding to their already storied history.

Only three NHL teams have overcome 3-0 deficits to win a best-of-seven series.

The 2010 Philadelphia Flyers, 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs and 1975 New York Islanders are the only teams to win a series after losing the first three games. With Chicago winning three straight to force a Game 7 against Vancouver in the opening round, there’s plenty of recent precedent that Detroit can push San Jose to the brink.

The Red Wings already have overcome a repeat of last season, when they went down 3-0 to the Sharks — just like this year — before being eliminated in Game 5 at San Jose.

No encore this time.

Detroit came back again with a strong push up ice and sent several shots at Niemi after going down two goals. In a span of 1:46, the Red Wings got a goal from Ericsson and another from Cleary on a wraparound shot for the equalizer.

Then Nicklas Lidstrom’s sent a slap shot from the centre that was deflected on net by Holmstrom, redirected top shelf to beat Niemi and stun a towel-waving crowd that was ready to toast a berth in the Western Conference for the second straight season.

Cleary’s goal was his second of the playoffs, giving the Riverhead, Harbour Grace native six points this post-season. Meanwhile, Fermeuse native Ryane Clowe had an assist on Pavelski’s goal for the Sharks, increasing his playoff point total to 13, tying him for post-season scoring lead with Ryan Kesler of The Vancouver Canucks and Martin St. Louis of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Fans had reason to be optimistic: the Sharks had controlled the puck and forced the action from the start.

But they failed to convert on two power plays in the opening period — not even registering a shot on the first — and nearly fell behind again if not for a spectacular save from their Niemi.

Organizations: Detroit Red Wings, San Jose Sharks, NHL Philadelphia Flyers Toronto Maple Leafs New York Islanders Tampa Bay Lightning.Fans

Geographic location: Detroit, San Jose, SAN JOSE, Calif. Chicago Fermeuse

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