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Sharks v Red Wings - 2011 Stanley Cup Conference Semifinals

Red Wings see bright future ahead

Eric Gilmore - Correspondent

"We still feel we have a really young core and an opportunity to get better. As we continue to change our organization and try to be current, we need these guys to be great." -- Mike Babcock

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- His team's playoff run had just ended minutes ago Thursday with a painful 3-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals, but Red Wings coach Mike Babcock couldn't help but look ahead to next season.

"I'm pleased with the effort," Babcock said. "I'm pleased with the growth of our young players, our high-end forwards. (Pavel) Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg were fantastic in this series, which I think is really important, and they showed great leadership, which is fantastic.

"We still feel we have a really young core and an opportunity to get better. As we continue to change our organization and try to be current, we need these guys to be great."

Sharks already focusing on Canucks

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Congratulations on the stirring victory in Game 7. The reward is two days off before visiting the best team in the NHL for the right to play for the Stanley Cup.

There's nothing more thrilling in hockey than winning a Game 7 on home ice, which is what the San Jose Sharks accomplished Thursday here at HP Pavilion against the Detroit Red Wings. The 3-2 victory placed the Sharks in the Western Conference Finals for the second straight season. They'll play Game 1 against the Presidents' Trophy-winning Vancouver Canucks on Sunday at Rogers Arena (8 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS).

While Sharks coach Todd McLellan was holding his press conference following the series-clinching win against the Red Wings, he was asked if he'd turn his attention to the Canucks the second he stepped off the podium.

"Yeah, pretty much," McLellan said. "It's draining for everybody -- players, trainers, coaching staff. We'll start working on Vancouver tonight. We don't have many days."

Sharks' special teams make the difference in Game 7

Eric Gilmore - Correspondent

SAN JOSE, Calif.  -- There wasn't much separating the Detroit Red Wings and San Jose Sharks in their Western Conference Semifinal series that came down to a seventh and deciding game Thursday night at HP Pavilion.

Wings coach Mike Babcock pointed to special teams as a factor that ultimately tilted the balance in San Jose's favor.

Detroit went 0-for-4 on the power play Thursday night and scored four power-play goals in the series. The Sharks went 1-for-3 and finished with five power-play goals.

"Didn't get 'er done for us in the end," Babcock said after Thursday night's 3-2 loss. "They scored one more power-play goal in the series than we did – and tonight it was enough to win the game for them.

Wings run out of comebacks in Game 7

Eric Gilmore - Correspondent

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The Detroit Red Wings finally dug a hole Thursday night against the San Jose Sharks that was too deep for them to escape.

After spotting San Jose a 3-0 lead in the series, the Red Wings roared back to win three straight and force a Game 7 in their Western Conference Semifinal series.

They had a chance to become just the fourth team in NHL history to win a series after losing the first three games. Instead, they fell behind 2-0 in the first period and, despite a desperate comeback, fell 3-2 to the Sharks at HP Pavilion on Thursday night.

The disappointment ran deep.

"It's tough to realize the season's over, especially when we believe in the room we could have done something really good this year," forward Henrik Zetterberg said. "We had a good team and had a good feeling."

Marleau answers critics with big goal

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- While the stomachs of 17,562 fans at HP Pavilion were churning Thursday night, Patrick Marleau showed the intestinal fortitude of the guy in the circus who takes cannonballs in the gut.

As if zero points in six games against the Detroit Red Wings during a Western Conference Semifinal that was slipping away from the San Jose Sharks wasn't enough, Marleau had to answer questions about his character when former teammate and Versus analyst Jeremy Roenick called him "gutless" following the loss in Game 5.

Marleau rose to the occasion in a massive way during Game 7, scoring what turned out to be the game-winning goal in the Sharks' 3-2 victory against the Red Wings, moving San Jose to the Western Conference Final for the second year in a row.

Howard disappointed with loss but proud of team

Eric Gilmore - Correspondent

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- After helping the Red Wings win three straight games, second-year goaltender Jimmy Howard turned in yet another solid effort in Thursday night's 3-2 loss to the Sharks in Game 7 at HP Pavilion. He stopped 27 of 30 shots and rebounded after a rough first period when San Jose jumped to a 2-0 lead.

After the game, a downcast Howard talked about his performance and the Red Wings' season-ending loss.

Q: Talk about the disappointment of not being able to move on.

You know, it stinks. We put in another great effort tonight. Tonight they found a way to win. They got off to a great start.  We knew that coming into this building that they were going to be fired up, they were going to be ready to go. It's tough when you're playing behind in this League.

Thornton backs up talk with Game 7 performance

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Turns out, Joe Thornton had every reason in the world to be confident.

"Confident. Very confident. Extremely confident," were the words Thornton used to describe the mentality of the Sharks as they approached a Game 7 with the Detroit Red Wings after watching a 3-0 series lead turn into a 3-3 tie.

On Thursday night, he was proven right. The Sharks scored first in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals and never trailed. When the Red Wings made their push, they never wavered and hung on for a dramatic 3-2 victory that propelled them away from the dubious distinction of being the fourth team to lose a series after leading 3-0 and into the Western Conference Finals for the second straight year.

Clowe in, Franzen out for Game 7

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The Sharks are getting back one of their key offensive contributors. The Detroit Red Wings are going to be without one of theirs.

Sharks forward Ryane Clowe, who missed Game 6 of the Western Conference Semifinals with an upper-body injury, is back in the lineup for Thursday night's Game 7 at HP Pavilion. However, Red Wings forward Johan Franzen will miss his second consecutive game with an ankle injury despite taking part in Thursday morning's practice.

Clowe leads the Sharks with 13 points in the playoffs. He was the victim of a massive hit by Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall during Game 5, but Sharks coach Todd McLellan said that hit wasn't the cause of Clowe's injury.

Sharks, Wings see opportunity in front of them

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- It's pretty surprising this Western Conference Semifinal has reached a Game 7 after the Sharks jumped to a 3-0 series lead on the Detroit Red Wings, who now have a chance to become for the fourth team in NHL history to come all the way back from that hole.

But the first thing that popped into the head of Sharks forward Devin Setoguchi when asked about playing a Game 7 was something he had just learned about one of his teammates.

"Dany Heatley hasn't played in a Game 7," Setoguchi said. "I found that pretty cool."

A Game 7 is always something special that few players get a chance to experience, even a successful veteran like Heatley. For Red Wings star Pavel Datsyuk, who has had his fair share of Game 7 experience, he went all the way back to his rookie season of 2002 to discuss a Game 7 memory.

A Sharks win would change a quirk of history

David Kalan - Staff Writer

Thursday's Game 7 already holds some significant historic clout as just the eighth time a team has forced a seventh game after facing a 3-0 deficit, and regardless of whether San Jose survives or Detroit completes its daunting task, the result will be a noteworthy one in NHL annals.

However, a win by the Sharks would present an interesting quirk that would leave one of the League's wildest historical trends on the chopping block.

After Vancouver went through its nerve-wracking seven-game win over Chicago in the first round, many pundits were left to wonder if the emotional win over the Hawks would leave the Canucks ripe for a second-round letdown or perhaps too spent to chase after the Cup. But in the midst of the talking head chatter, not only did the Canucks manage to get past Nashville in six games, but many glossed over the fact that Vancouver was just the fourth team to take a 3-0 lead, get pushed to a Game 7 and still win the series.
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