The Detroit Red Wings had a chance to slam the door on the St. Louis Blues. Not this time, at least.
"We knew it wasn't going to be easy," Detroit forward Brendan Shanahan said after the Blues' 3-1 win Sunday postponed their playoff elimination. "Now there's even more pressure on us because we have to go into their building."The Red Wings still hold a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference semi-final series. But they now face the prospect of having to win Game 6 Tuesday night in St. Louis. Otherwise, it will be a one-game showdown Thursday night back at Joe Louis Arena.
"If the odds against us were 100-1 before today, maybe they're half that now," St. Louis coach Joel Quenneville said. "It's still not easy, especially with the success they're had in our building."
The Red Wings-Blues series is the last one still going in the second round. The winner will advance to the Western Conference finals against the Dallas Stars starting on Sunday. The Stars advanced by beating Edmonton 2-1 Saturday night to wrap up their series in five games.
The Red Wings, trying to become the first team since 1992 to repeat as Stanley Cup champions, won games 3 and 4 in St. Louis last week.
"We don't feel uncomfortable in that building, but we certainly made it much harder on ourselves today," Detroit captain Steve Yzerman said.
Fourteen teams have come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a best-of-7 series, most recently the Edmonton Oilers over the Colorado Avalanche in the first round of this year's playoffs.
"The pressure is still more on us than it is on them," said Geoff Courtnall, whose goal triggered a 3-0 St. Louis lead in the second period. "They've still only got to win one."
Mike Eastwood and Todd Gill also scored for St. Louis. A shorthanded goal by Martin Lapointe was the only mistake Blues goaltender Grant Fuhr made against Detroit.
The longer St. Louis prolongs the series, the longer Detroit forward Sergei Fedorov must wait to collect a $12 million bonus.
Fedorov, whose contract calls for him to collect the bonus if the Red Wings reach the conference finals, was not much of a factor Sunday. He had two takeaways and two giveaways.