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Sharks v Red Wings - 2011 Stanley Cup Conference Semifinals

Lidstrom looks like he has plenty left in tank

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

DETROIT -- No one knows if this season will be the swan song for Nicklas Lidstrom, but goaltender Jimmy Howard thinks the 41-year-old defenseman could play forever.

"I bet you he could," Howard said. "He's just so smart out there. He's the smartest hockey player I've ever played with, bar none. He just never puts himself in a compromising position. He's just a tremendous hockey player."

There was speculation that if the Red Wings didn't stave off elimination in Game 4 against the San Jose Sharks, it might have been Lidstrom's final NHL game. Instead, it was Lidstrom leading the way in the Red Wings' 4-3 victory that ensured he'd get at least one more game this season, and maybe in his career.

Lidstrom scored two goals in the first period -- he has four in the series -- and one of them was of the world-class variety that players in their primes would have a hard time scoring. He controlled a rocket of a pass from Henrik Zetterberg with his shin pad and popped it up about waist-high, where he then knocked it out of the air and into the net to make it 3-0.

Sharks edged, not routed, in Game 4 this time

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

DETROIT -- In a Western Conference Semifinal series that's been eerily similar to the one a year ago between the Detroit Red Wings and San Jose Sharks, Friday night's Game 4 could've continued the trend.

Instead, the Sharks didn't buckle like they did a year ago, when Detroit walloped them 7-1 at Joe Louis Arena. This time, San Jose stemmed a potential blowout by fighting back from a 3-0 first-period deficit and lost a close one 4-3 on a late goal by Darren Helm.

Just as they were 365 days prior, the Sharks are headed back to San Jose for Sunday night's Game 5 at HP Pavilion leading the series 3-1 and looking to oust the Red Wings from the playoffs for a second straight season. Unlike last year, they're not making the long flight while licking their wounds.

Clowe pleased to see Sharks battle back

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

DETROIT -- Ryane Clowe was determined not to let the San Jose Sharks get blown out by the Detroit Red Wings in Game 4 of their Western Conference Semifinal series, as they were by a 7-1 margin a year ago.

Instead, thanks in large part to Clowe’s three assists on Friday night at Joe Louis Arena, the Sharks are headed back home with their series lead cut to 3-1 but a different feeling than they had at the same point a year ago.

Friday night’s 4-3 loss to the Red Wings could’ve been a blowout after Detroit jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period, but Clowe and the Sharks fought their way back into it and made the Red Wings work hard for the win -- which came about thanks to a late goal in the third by Darren Helm.

Helm, Eaves work magic on season-saving goal

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

DETROIT -- Darren Helm made sure the Red Wings wouldn’t be swept from the Western Conference Semifinals.

Helm took a perfect cross-ice pass from Patrick Eaves and buried the puck into an open side of the net past Antti Niemi with 1:27 left in regulation to give the Red Wings a 4-3 victory against the San Jose Sharks in Game 4 of their best-of-seven series Friday night.

The Sharks rallied from a 3-0 first-period deficit and tied the game early in the third period, but Helm's goal saved the Red Wings' season.

The Red Wings will try to avoid a repeat of last year's five-game loss to the Sharks when they play Game 5 of this series at HP Pavilion in San Jose on Sunday.

Sharks will see if they've learned Game 4 lesson

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

DETROIT -- For nearly a week, the refrain from the dressing room of the San Jose Sharks has been the same -- last season's five-game victory against the Red Wings has no bearing on anything that's happening in this year's Western Conference Semifinal rematch.

But with the Sharks once again holding a 3-0 lead in the series with Game 4 set for Friday night (7 p.m., Versus, TSN, RIS) at Joe Louis Arena, it's become impossible to avoid discussing the 7-1 blowout loss to the Red Wings in last year's Game 4 that forced Game 5 back in San Jose.

"It's hard to avoid. It really is," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "We want to separate the series, but their minds are going back to it. They're well aware of what happened last year. As far as us addressing it, we've approached it by telling them we've been in this situation before. We need to take advantage of the opportunity that presents itself tonight and make sure that we're ready to go."

Babcock sticking with same lineup

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

DETROIT -- Mike Babcock isn't going to be swayed by sentiment.

That's why, as his Detroit Red Wings head into Friday night's Game 4 of their Western Conference Semifinal series trailing 3-0 to the San Jose Sharks, he's not going to make any lineup changes from what he put on the ice at Joe Louis Arena in Game 3 -- a 4-3 overtime loss.

That means he won't be swapping veteran forward Mike Modano into the lineup for Johan Franzen, who continues to have his skating limited by a sore ankle. Modano, 40, has only played one playoff game for Detroit -- Game 4 of a first-round sweep against the Phoenix Coyotes -- and might be nearing the end of his one-year stint with the Red Wings.

Babcock said it's not easy to keep telling the future Hall of Fame forward he's sitting, but in his mind that's still the right decision.

Red Wings remain positive despite long odds

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

DETROIT -- His team is faced with a situation that almost no team overcomes, but Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock refuses to let it drag him down into despair.

The Red Wings mirrored that attitude, at least in what they said after their optional practice Thursday at Joe Louis Arena, once again down 3-0 in a Western Conference Semifinal series to the San Jose Sharks -- the same, exact position Detroit was in exactly 365 days ago.

When you include last year's series, the Red Wings are now losers of seven one-goal playoff games against the Sharks in the past two postseasons and have dropped three of those games in overtime, including two this season.

Coupled with the fact only three teams in NHL history have overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a series, you'd think there must be some sort of confidence vacuum or frustration building for the Red Wings. Not so, according to them.

Setoguchi beats Couture to the punch

"I looked over at Logan Couture and said, 'You better get it before I do because I already have my celebration ready to go." -- Devin Setoguchi

Sharks forward Devin Setoguchi turned in one of the best offensive performances of the playoffs Wednesday night when he became the first player this postseason to tally a hat trick.

The feat in and of itself is an impressive one, but this hat trick was sweeter than most, as the third goal came at 9:21 of overtime, giving the Sharks a 4-3 victory in Game 3 of their Western Conference Semifinal with Detroit and a 3-0 series lead. What might be most remarkable about it all is that Setoguchi actually called his shot before the extra period started.

Sharks showing moxie with run of OT wins

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

DETROIT -- During a postseason when overtime has been commonplace, the San Jose Sharks have been the masters.

There have been 20 overtime games during the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, fifth most in NHL history (the record is 28, set in 2003) despite the fact the conference semifinals have yet to be completed. The Sharks have participated in 25 percent of those overtimes and are 5-0 after beating the Red Wings 4-3 on Wednesday night to grab a 3-0 stranglehold on their best-of-7 series.

Ryane Clowe offered an explanation that seemed to summarize the reasons for the Sharks' success during the extra period.

"We have a lot of confidence," Clowe said. "It's a tense time in overtime. It's easy to tighten up. You might want to just dump it out and you don't want the puck on your stick and you don't want to be the guy who turns it over. We think to win."

Wings' Modano reflects on difficult season

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

DETROIT -- You can see it on his face and hear it in his voice, but 41-year old Detroit Red Wings forward Mike Modano is not quite ready to finalize his retirement plans just yet.

He seems to be leaning heavily in that direction, but he's also talking from the standpoint of a proud star who has been a healthy scratch in the first three games of Detroit's Western Conference Semifinal series against the San Jose Sharks -- all one-goal losses, two in overtime.

It's been a frustrating season for Modano in general, after having tendons in his wrist cut by a skate blade just 20 games into the regular season and not returning until almost March.

The fact Modano had to be coaxed into not retiring last summer by Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland and coach Mike Babcock only adds to the puzzle about his playing future.
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