SAN JOSE, Calif. – San Jose coach Todd McLellan has preached after each playoff win this post-season how there’s no carry-over effect from one game to the next.
He sure hopes that’s the case when the Sharks return to the ice for Game 5 of their second-round series against Detroit on Saturday night, two days after losing 7-1 to the Red Wings when they had a chance to finish off a series sweep.
“We have to put that one behind us,” McLellan said Friday. “If we carry it too long we won’t be any good tomorrow night. We watched it again, we evaluated it and we talked about some of the areas of the game where obviously we weren’t very good. We get another opportunity tomorrow night.”
The loss matched the second-most lopsided in Sharks post-season history, behind only a 9-2 home defeat to Calgary on May 11, 1995, in Game 3 of a series that San Jose eventually won in seven games.
If the Sharks are seeking any other positive trends all they need to do is look at their only other 7-1 loss in the post-season. That came 16 years ago in Game 6 in Detroit when San Jose had a chance to close out its first playoff series win in franchise history. The Sharks rebounded back in 1994 to win 3-2 on the road in Game 7?a victory that is widely considered the biggest in team history.
The Red Wings have been at their best this post-season when facing elimination, having beaten Phoenix 6-1 in Game 7 in the first round to advance. While Detroit has won both games and outscored the opposition 13-2 when facing elimination, the Red Wings are 3-6 in all other games.
“It seems every time our backs are against the wall, we always come with the big efforts,” forward Todd Bertuzzi said. “Unfortunately, it takes that to get that out of us. Game 5 is going to be huge. We’ve got to make sure we do the exact same thing we did and hopefully we get some puck luck and bring it back here for (Game) 6.”
They need three more elimination-avoiding wins to advance to the conference finals. Only two teams in NHL history have ever rallied back from a 3-0 deficit to win a series, with the New York Islanders doing it to Pittsburgh in 1975 and Toronto pulling off the feat against Detroit in 1942.
“We’ve got to win the next game,” said Johan Franzen, who scored four goals Thursday. “If we can do that, then we’re back in.”
The Red Wings took it to the Sharks early in Game 4, getting a big boost from a line switch that put Franzen alongside Henrik Zetterberg and Bertuzzi.
Franzen scored a natural hat trick in a span of 3:26 in the first period, added a fourth goal in the third and set a team playoff record with six points. Bertuzzi added a goal and four assists as the Sharks had no answer for Detroit’s high-powered trio.
“I thought we were moving around a little bit more, getting in little holes and not really standing still. I think we were kind of supporting each other and getting through that way,” Bertuzzi said. “We’ve got to go to San Jose and bring the same kind of intensity and fire that we did right off the hop.”
The Sharks want to regain the level of play they had in winning the first three games of this series and the last three of the first round against Colorado.
San Jose did a good job during that six-game winning streak of getting pucks in deep and using big bodies to wear down the opponent as the game went on.
That was not the case at all in Game 4, when the Sharks fell behind early and never were in the game.
“We watched some clips and you certainly learn from your mistakes and there were plenty of them,” defenceman Dan Boyle said. “We knew that. We don’t need to reinvent our game. We just need to execute the way we were. We made a lot of mistakes; just work on avoiding them.”
Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov inevitably received his share of the blame after allowing five goals on nine shots before being pulled after the first period for Thomas Greiss.
The Sharks remained confident in their goalie, who earlier this year allowed six goals in less than two periods of Russia’s 7-3 loss to Canada in the Olympic quarter-finals.
“I don’t think he had a rough game,” forward Dany Heatley said. “I thought we made some breakdowns and he was left out to dry on a lot of those goals. He’s a mentally strong guy and he’ll be ready to go tomorrow.”
AP Sports Writer Larry Lage in Detroit contributed to this report.