They'll have to make franchise history in order to survive and advance to the conference semifinals. The Sharks have never come back to win a series after trailing 3-1.
"Other than [in] this locker room, I don't think anybody believes we're going to do it, which is fine," Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle said Friday morning after a brief meeting and off-ice workout. "But as long as the guys in here believe that we can, that's what's most important. It's going to be a tough task. We all know that. It's going to be a very difficult task, but it can be done. It's not impossible."
BLUES VS. SHARKS
Odds stacked against teams down 3-1By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor
Five teams currently find themselves down 3-1 in their respective playoff series. Historically, it's not a very good place to be. READ MORE ›
Only 24 of 254 teams facing a 3-1 playoff deficit in NHL history have come back to win, according to whowins.com. That's a 9.4 percent success rate.
The Sharks had a chance to even their series with St. Louis on Thursday night, but they lost 2-1 and face an elimination game Saturday night at Scottrade Center. Sharks coach Todd McLellan said his team was understandably "down" Friday and "fighting the mental part" of facing such a big deficit.
"So we've got to get over feeling down or feeling out, if you will, and move on," McLellan said. "And that was our job today as a group, was to get past those feelings of being down and getting ready to go into their building and play and play hard and try to put them in a pressure situation of coming back here and having to win."
Results from the past two postseasons don't offer Sharks fans much hope of the series returning to HP Pavilion for a Game 6 on Monday. Last year the Sharks trailed Vancouver 3-1 in the conference final and lost Game 5, falling 3-2 in double overtime. In the 2010 conference final, they trailed Chicago 3-0 and fell 4-2 in Game 4.
But in 2009, the Sharks trailed Anaheim 3-1 in a conference quarterfinals series and won the next game 3-2 in overtime before falling 4-1 in Game 6. In the 2008 conference semifinals, San Jose fell behind 3-0 to Dallas but won the next two games and pushed the Stars to four overtimes in Game 6 before falling 2-1.
"I think a lot of teams have come back from down 3-1, so we hope to be one of those teams," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said. "Work our way out of it, stay as positive as you can, and just go out and do what you're supposed to do.
"You got to play loose, enjoy it, enjoy the challenge you have in front of you, and just try and win a hockey game in St. Louis. That's all we got to do."
In order to beat the Blues, the Sharks will need some of their key goal scorers to snap out of series-long slumps. Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski each cracked the 30-goal mark during the regular season but have yet to record a single point.
McLellan said that in past postseasons, the Sharks usually had a player or two who acted as offensive "catalysts" for the team, scoring big goals at key times. This postseason, Martin Havlat leads the team with two goals, and both of those came in the first game. Thornton, the team's top setup man, has a goal and three assists.
"We haven't found that guy," McLellan said. "They have. Andy McDonald's been their guy. So they could be making NHL commercials, like they were last year, on Andy McDonald. They're having trouble finding our guy. It might be [Thornton], but we're looking for that guy yet. And that person can still evolve or players can still come to the forefront. They still have time."
Pavelski has been that offensive catalyst in the past. He has seven game-winning goals in his playoff career, three in overtime. This year he's had plenty of good scoring chances, but has come up empty.
"This time of year you definitely need somebody to step up," Pavelski said. "Obviously no one's really done that from the start. We need someone to step up and especially when you get the chances. And I feel like I've had my share of chances to score. I think probably a lot of guys in this room feel that way. It's definitely important that we keep shooting and we keep finding a way. You never know. When one goes in, they definitely can come in bunches. We've seen that before. Someone will get going here."
The Sharks' playoff lives depend on it.
"They have to find a way to get on the score sheet, and they've got a game to do that tomorrow," McLellan said of Pavelski and Marleau. "Again, they had some good opportunities yesterday, Patty on the power play entry, Pav with an open net. But for us to have success, our go-to players have to find a way to get to the score sheet. We'll need that from them tomorrow."