DETROIT — The poke check, while slow-developing, might have pulled Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller out of trouble after Detroit's Gustav Nyquist split the defense and attacked with a burst of speed.
But everything seemed to turn sideways. The puck went off the knee of Ducks defenseman Bryan Allen. Hiller alertly kicked out his left leg and made the save.
But three saves? That was asking too much.
BOX SCORE: Detroit 3, Ducks 2
The Ducks failed to pick up the trailing forward, Damien Brunner, a natural goal scorer who certainly wasn't going to miss an easy tap-in. Brunner's goal with 4:50 remaining in overtime gave the Red Wings a 3-2 victory over the Ducks in Game 4 of the Western Conference quarterfinals on Monday at Joe Louis Arena.
And so, the series goes back to Anaheim, deadlocked at two games each. Game 5 is Wednesday at Honda Center. The Red Wings have won the two games in the series that have gone to overtime and Nyquist scored the winner in Game 2.
"I thought he [Nyquist] had a breakaway, but the puck got away a little from him so I tried to clear it," said Hiller, who faced 49 shots Monday. "It went off the defenseman. It's tough to kind of know where the poke check exactly goes.
"We knew it's going to be a tight series. We didn't think we would just walk through just because we won last game, that it was going to be easy. We knew that they're probably going to be playing their best game in this series tonight and I think that's what they did."
Said Brunner: "Gus did an unbelievable job taking the puck out of mid-air. He's a speedy guy. He got both defenders turned and he chipped the puck on net, and obviously I had a wide open net. It felt pretty good."
The Red Wings were playing without a forward on their top line, winger Justin Abdelkader, who on Sunday was suspended by the NHL for two games for his hit on Ducks defenseman Toni Lydman.
Lydman, who is suffering from headaches and a sore neck, did not play in Game 4 and his return for the series is considered doubtful.
Said Detroit Coach Mike Babcock after Monday's game: "It's best of three now. The longer you can put this off, the better I like our chances. As low as we were the other night, we're as high tonight. We have to go in their barn and steal another game."
Hiller came close to lifting the Ducks to a 3-1 series lead. He kept the Red Wings off the score sheet for the first two periods, extending his shutout streak, which started in Game 3, to 100 minutes.
Anaheim had leads of 1-0 and 2-1, but Detroit pulled even with 6:33 remaining in regulation on a world-class shot from the left circle from the always dangerous Pavel Datsyuk, who scored his first goal of the playoffs.
The Ducks got their goals from Matt Beleskey, a third-effort attempt, at 5:07 of the first period, and center David Steckel, at 10:40 of the third period.
Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau shuffled things around in an effort to get some players going. Steckel, in fact, played some with Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan.
Perry continues to search for his first goal of this playoff series. He was limited to one assist and he missed several terrific scoring opportunities, including missing a wide open net.
"They played very good, very hard, very desperate," Boudreau said of the Red Wings. "Quite frankly, we didn't have 20 players playing.
"We had some passengers tonight. They played good. But in a game like this, when they're a four-line team and we're a four-line team, we've got to have all four lines going. If we don't have all four lines going, then you have to mix and match. I didn't want to change lines but we didn't have guys going."