The veteran Detroit Red Wings reached down, for the second straight game, and found themselves a comeback victory. Down in an 0-3 hole, the Detroit Red Wings have climbed back into the series and have forced a decisive Game 7 on Thursday.
There was forty minutes with no scoring, but the Red Wings were barraging Sharks goalie Antii Niemi with shots. Detroit would finish the game with 44 shots, while San Jose would have only 25.
A 27-year old Red Wing, who had not registered a point in the series, would emerge as a hero by setting up the tying goal with 9:22 left, and would score the game winner 1:54 later to help Detroit defeat San Jose 3-1 in front of a raucous Joe Louis Arena crowd. That hero is Valtteri Filppula.
“I think you have to believe all the time, whatever the score is, even if you’re behind, that you can come back,” Filppula said. “Believing we can, it’s definitely a big part of it.”
“I thought he was excellent,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He was a guy we obviously needed more from. He’s an important guy for us.
The Red Wings now have a chance to join the 1943 Toronto Maple Leafs, the 1975 New York Islanders, and the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers, as the only teams to ever win a playoff series after being down 3-0.
The 41-year old Detroit captain, Nicklas Lindstrom, who has had such an illustrious career, has helped his team earn the chance to add something historic to his career.
“I haven’t been in a situation like this before, but I’ve played in Game 7s in the past and know the importance of the game,” Lindstrom said. “It’ll be fun game to go out there and play.”
The Sharks were kept in the game due to the stellar play of goalie Antii Niemi. He played his finest game of this postseason, stopping 32 shots through two frames, and 42 overall. He singlehandedly kept the Sharks in the game during the 18 shot barrage by Detroit and keeping them from taking a multi-goal lead. Two of his best saves came when Niemi stopped Tomas Holmstrom and Brian Rafalski while the Wings were on the powerplay.
“You can’t take much out of this game other than Nemo was great,” Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray said. “We put up an embarrassing effort. It’s nothing to do with an X’s and O’s. It’s about whatever it takes to get yourself ready. We weren’t making quick plays, we weren’t doing anything right.”
All of that aside, Logan Couture gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead at 3:54 of the third. After Wings goalie Jimmy Howard stopped a shot from Dany Heatley, the rebound jumped into the air, where Couture banged it through Howard’s legs. The puck crossed the line by just inches, and a video review confirmed the goal.
But for the second straight game, a Logan Couture goal woke up the Red Wings.
The Sharks are the team with their backs against the wall, in the same vain of the Vancouver Canucks were after blowing a 3-0 series lead against the Chicago Blackhawks before defeating them in a dramatic Game 7. But Sharks captain Joe Thornton said that last thing on their minds is pressure.
“Just ask Detroit, they lost three in a row and their confidence hasn’t frayed,” Thornton said. “We’re a confident group, still. You work 82 games to get home ice in these Game 7s. Now we just have to make it work.”
The Sharks could not take advantage of a Justin Abdelkader holding penalty. San Jose is now 0-for-8 on the powerplay since going up 3-0 in the series. We will have to wait to see if the Red Wings will be able to make history.
“This team is working truly hard here,” Jimmy Howard said. “Nobody was feeling bad about us being down 3-0 in the series. We weren’t about to hang our heads, either. Even though we were down 3-0, there was still a calmness about this team.”
For the second straight round, a team has comeback from being down 3-0. It is only the eighth time in NHL History that has happened. The Red Wings will need the same effort form the last three game, and the Sharks need to feed of their home crowd. All we know is … it’s win or go home.