Down 3-0 to the San Jose Sharks in their Western Conference semifinal series, the Red Wings will attempt to stave off elimination Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena.
The Red Wings are well aware of the daunting task they face, trying to join the 1975 New York Islanders and 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs as the only teams in Stanley Cup playoff history to win a series after losing the first three games.
The Islanders knocked off the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round and the Maple Leafs defeated the Red Wings to win the Cup.
"That's how hard it is to do," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said following his team's practice Wednesday. "And yet, I figure every 33 years or so you've got to be due. It must be our turn.
"But the reality is, we have to win a period. We have to win the first shift. We have to put it in a small box and just keep working through it. We understand the ramifications. They'd like to eliminate us and we'd like to keep playing."
Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom likes the idea of joining those Islanders and Maple Leafs teams in the postseason record books.
"We're looking at it as what a great feeling it would be to be the team to do it again," he said. "It would be great to be that team to come back and respond to being down 3-0.
"(But) in doing that, we can only look at the next game ahead of us. You can't look at four games. You have to look at one game, and that's the game we have to focus on. That's all we're doing today."
Forward Kris Draper, who has helped the Red Wings win four Cups since 1997, would like nothing better than to add another milestone to his career.
"History can be made, right?" he said. "It's happened before. Has it happened a lot? No. Have teams done it? Yes. We've done a lot of things in the postseason to be proud of. To look at the big picture, it's tough and everything is against us. But we have such a great group in here that we want to keep going.
"All we can do, all we can control, is our preparation to play one hockey game. Emotionally we're going to be engaged and ready to go. We want to win Game 4 and take it back to San Jose and from there you just go. But the bottom line is finding a way to win one hockey game."
This is rare territory for the Red Wings, who lost to the Penguins in last year's Stanley Cup Final after capturing the Cup in 2008. Detroit hasn't been in such a precarious predicament since 2003, when it was swept by the Anaheim Ducks in the opening round.
"We still believe in ourselves in this dressing room," rookie goalie Jimmy Howard said. "This is the first time I've ever been in this situation, but I'm excited."
Babcock said he still believes in Howard, who made some big stops in Tuesday's 4-3 overtime loss but gave up a bad goal to Sharks rookie Logan Couture, whose bad-angle shot tied the game with 6:43 remaining in the third period.
"We expect him to pick things up," Babcock said.
Howard said he erased the Couture goal from his mind "as soon as I left the arena. There's no reason to dwell on it. The season's not over."
It will end Thursday unless Howard and his teammates manage to build a lead and hang onto it, something they failed to do in the past two games.
"History can be made, right? It's happened before. Has it happened a lot? No. Have teams done it? Yes. We've done a lot of things in the postseason to be proud of. To look at the big picture, it's tough and everything is against us. But we have such a great group in here that we want to keep going." -- Kris DraperThe Red Wings have played a lot of hockey, regular season and playoffs, in the past two decades and could be running out of fuel against the Sharks.
"It's a grind, and so one thing you can say to yourself if you want, is ‘Geez, we've played a lot of hockey, ohhh …'," Babcock said. "That just means you're soft between the ears. Let's win a game. We've got a great challenge ahead. Let's get to it. Let's win a game.
"You can use any cliché you want, but the reality is we have to play better. We have to find a way to get the puck in the net one more time than them."