DETROIT – The storied history of the Detroit Red Wings does not happen to include coming back from a 0-3 deficit in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Pavel Datsyuk is confident Detroit can do it, figuring out a way to beat the San Jose Sharks four straight times after losing three in a row by a goal each time.
“If we do not believe, we should just go home,” Datsyuk said Thursday. “We believe 100 per cent.”
Just three NHL teams have pulled off the feat.
The 2010 Philadelphia Flyers, 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs and 1975 New York Islanders are the only teams in league history to win a series after losing the first three games.
“We also have enough respect for our opponent to know that if there’s a team that can do it, it would be Detroit,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. “So, that should help us prepare. Our lesson that we were taught last year should help us. We know the storm is coming, we’ve experienced that, but we’d like to be part of that storm.
“We’d like to push back and be ready to play when the puck is dropped.”
The Sharks will have their first chance to advance to the Western Conference finals—for the third time in the franchise’s two decades—on Friday night in Detroit.
Captain Joe Thornton wants to take advantage and eliminate the Red Wings.
“You don’t want them to get any momentum,” Thornton said. “We’re taking the mental attitude that it’s a must-win game.”
The Sharks seem to be beating the Red Wings mentally and physically, becoming the first team to have eight post-season wins in row by a goal each time in league history.
McLellan hopes that doesn’t make the Sharks cocky.
“I want to separate last year from this year, but I believed we learned a very valuable lesson in Game 4,” he said.
The Sharks lost Game 4 to Detroit 7-1 on the road, then bounced back to eliminate the Red Wings with a 2-1 victory.
“We did not come back,” Datsyuk said. “Now, we have another chance.”
Detroit’s Mike Modano, who leads all U.S.-born NHL players in goals and points, has been a healthy scratch for all but one game during the playoffs and the centre nearing his 41st birthday sounds like he’s leaning toward retirement. He might not get another opportunity to play in the NHL.
“The knee-jerk reaction is to kind of say that’s it and be done with it because the frustration level is fairly high at this point,” he said. “But I’ll let the dust settle and make a decision.”
That is Nicklas Lidstrom’s plan as well. The 41-year-old defenceman, a finalist to win his seventh Norris Trophy, reiterated that he isn’t ready to think or talk about his future.
“I’m going to wait until this season is over and then make a decision on what I want to do,” Lidstrom said.