The Red Wings' offense was too deep to be stifled by the Ducks forever.
The question the Ducks now face is whether they'll be able to stifle that offense again.
Detroit ran over the Ducks on Thursday with a late burst that added up to a 6-3 victory, chasing previously invincible goaltender Jonas Hiller at 2:46 of the third period and bringing Jean-Sebastien Giguere out of cold storage for the first time since April 11.
In tying the teams' second-round playoff series at two games each, Johan Franzen scored twice and Marian Hossa added his first two goals against the Ducks. Mikael Samuelsson's long slapper was the last shot seen by Hiller and the fifth goal he yielded on 33 shots.
The Ducks pulled the score to 5-3 on a power-play goal by Scott Niedermayer from the right circle at 10:03 of the third period but Henrik Zetterberg scored into an empty net at 17:27 to clinch the victory. The Ducks were outshot, 40-28, making them 10 for 10 in that category in the playoffs.
Game 5 will be played Sunday at Joe Louis Arena and Game 6 will be at the Honda Center on Tuesday. A seventh game, if necessary, will be next Thursday at Detroit.
A franchise-record crowd of 17,601 watched the Ducks get off to a good start but cave under the Red Wings' skill and new determination. The Ducks had given up many high-quality scoring chances in their 2-1 victory Tuesday in Game 3 but managed to hold on. This time, they were passed and left in the dust in the second and third periods.
Their woes stemmed in part from the absence of rugged defenseman James Wisniewski, who suffered a lung contusion Tuesday and has not been cleared to resume physical activity. But most of the Red Wings' awakening was because of some line juggling by Coach Mike Babcock.
He separated Hossa from Tomas Holmstrom and Pavel Datsyuk and put Zetterberg there instead while putting Hossa alongside Valtteri Filppula and Franzen to form a swift, strong trio the Ducks could not stop.
"Mule [Franzen] started us off with two big goals," Hossa said. "It was a huge game for him and for us."
There were few encouraging notes for the Ducks, primarily that Ryan Getzlaf took over the playoff scoring lead with two assists that gave him 16 points and an eight-game point streak.
Historians may care that the Ducks have never lost a playoff series they've led after three games, but personnel turnover from season to season makes that irrelevant.
The Ducks scored in the first minute of the game, catching Detroit on a line change, but the Red Wings came in waves at a less-than-steady Hiller and built a 2-1 lead before the first period ended.
Corey Perry took a long pass from Chris Pronger and snapped the puck past Chris Osgood 42 seconds in, delighting the Ducks fans in the crowd and tying a club record for fastest goal from the start of a game. But their joy didn't last long.
The Hossa-Filppula-Franzen line produced both goals for Detroit in the opening period. Filppula was sandwiched between two Ducks defenders when he slipped a pass back to Franzen, who rifled a 30-foot shot past the right pad of a surprised Hiller at 11:49, and Franzen tipped a Niklas Kronwall shot past Hiller with 35.4 seconds left in the period after Ducks defenseman Ryan Whitney turned the puck over along the boards.
"We knew we had to keep peppering the puck at his feet and get rebounds and second chances," Hossa said. "Tonight we just squeezed some through."
The Ducks did pull even at 11:03 of the second period. Whitney made a good play in his own zone to blunt a Detroit push, and the puck came out to Getzlaf. He had checkers on him but he made a half-turn and pushed the puck to Perry, whose quick, 35-foot shot eluded Osgood at 11:03.
Hossa put the Red Wings ahead, 3-2, at 16:02 when he took a pass from Franzen and fired it past Hiller's arm from the inner edge of the right circle.
"We had a pretty decent start, but we kind of lost our game after that," Hiller said. "We just were not good enough. We were too passive. Nobody showed their best game tonight."
Hossa made it 4-2 with another goal in the last minute of a period, while Francois Beauchemin served a needless interference penalty he took in the offensive zone. Hossa accepted a pass from Nicklas Lidstrom and unleashed a one-timer from the top of the right circle that eluded Hiller with 55.6 seconds left.