It wasn't the stunned expression that he wore exactly a year ago as a rookie goalie, after the San Jose Sharks beat him 4-3 in overtime to put the Red Wings down 3-0 in their Western Conference Semifinal series. That one fit his postseason experience level.
The look he wore on Wednesday night at Joe Louis Arena, following another 4-3 OT loss to the Sharks that again put the Wings down 3-0 in a West semifinal, was different: This one was more pained and his words were filled with more disgust than disillusion.
After allowing the game-winner by Devin Setoguchi at 9:21 of overtime, Howard was surrounded by cameras and microphones as he stewed at his locker. He quietly answered some questions and spit out other with an acidic tone.
DETROIT -- Exactly one year later to the day, the Detroit Red Wings dropped a gut-wrenching overtime loss in Game 3 of a Western Conference Semifinal series on Wednesday night at Joe Louis Arena to fall behind 3-0 to the San Jose Sharks.
It was even the exact same final score -- 4-3 -- that San Jose put the Red Wings in a precarious position 365 days ago. The only differences were the Sharks didn't have to overcome a two-goal deficit in the third and instead of Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau scoring the game-tying and game-winning goals, it was Dan Boyle and Devin Setoguchi.
Either way, it was another gut punch to the Wings, who've now dropped seven of the last eight playoff games between the two teams – all by one goal with two in overtime.
Thornton set up all three of Setoguchi's goals during Game 3 of this Western Conference Semifinal series. The Sharks can eliminate the Red Wings for a second year in a row with a victory in Friday's Game 4.
Thornton has 2 goals and 7 assists in 9 games during the playoffs, leaving him just three points short of his career-high of 12 that he had last season.
DETROIT -- When Antti Niemi was dominating the San Jose Sharks last season as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks during the Western Conference Finals, there was a prevailing sentiment among Sharks players that it wasn't so much Niemi standing on his head as much as it was them simply hitting him with pucks.
Niemi stopped 119 of 126 shots during the Blackhawks' four-game sweep, but most Sharks weren't all that impressed at times during the series.
That said, Babcock insists it's not because of any matchup chess match against San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan, his former assistant with the Red Wings. In fact, Babcock is so convinced matchups won't have the biggest bearing on Game 3 that he actually ran through his planned line combinations with the media after Detroit's morning skate -- a move most coaches refrain from doing.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Some of the big news of the day following Nashville's morning skate was that quotable defenseman Shane O'Brien has joined Twitter.
His account is ShaneObrien55 and he was gaining several hundred followers by the hour, with 6,750 by 2:15 p.m. Central time on Tuesday. O'Brien thanked pal Paul Bissonnette -- the Phoenix Coyotes' left wing who is perhaps far better known by his Twitter handle BizNasty2point0 with more than 74,000 followers -- for encouraging his foray into social media.
"I got to give Biz a lot of credit, actually," O'Brien said. "He gave me a little shout out. I was thinking about joining the world of social networking, so I'm a little bit behind the times. I decided I'll jump in there. It's a great thing. It'll give the fans what they deserve here in Nashville.
As for Wednesday's Game 3 of Detroit's Western Conference Semifinal series against the San Jose Sharks at Joe Louis Arena, it's still up in the air about which Red Wings forwards will play together and which will sit out -- including Zetterberg and Datsyuk.
That's the official word, anyway, straight from the mouth of Detroit coach Mike Babcock -- who insisted after Tuesday's practice that nothing has been officially changed in his lineup despite several changes on display, including the big split between his two biggest stars.
The reporter made the mistake of asking Helm whether the fourth line that he centered all season, which featured a variety of different forwards on the outside, was Detroit's new "Grind Line," -- the fourth line that Draper helped make famous along with former Wings Darren McCarty, Kirk Maltby and Joe Kocur.
"Whoa, there, buddy," Draper said, half smiling at the reporter. "I don't have a comment on that. My comment is up in the rafters."
DETROIT -- It feels like history is repeating for the San Jose Sharks, who for the second year in a row hold a 2-0 lead in their best-of-7 Western Conference Semifinal series with Game 3 set for Wednesday night at Joe Louis Arena.
Just like last year, the Sharks are coming off a pair of one-goal victories at HP Pavilion and have now won six of seven playoff games against the Red Wings and 10 of 12 overall. With that recent dominance against the Red Wings in mind, what's going to prevent this series from being a carbon copy of last year's that saw the Sharks take a 3-0 lead and wrap it up in five games?
DETROIT -- It’s probably best to start with the bad news for the Detroit Red Wings, who find themselves down 2-0 in a Western Conference semifinal-round series against the San Jose Sharks.
Detroit is just 5-21 all-time when losing the first two games of a playoff series and only 2-6 when facing the same situation during the team’s remarkable 20-year run of postseason appearances. Also, after dropping the first three games against the Sharks in the same round last season, Detroit lost that series in five games.
When you include the 2010-11 regular season, the Red Wings have lost 10 of the previous 12 meetings against San Jose and appear to be completely flummoxed. Also working against them is a middling record at Joe Louis Arena during the regular season, even being booed off the ice a couple of times.
Life's about opportunity and how you respond to that opportunity, and obviously he must have some swagger about him, some confidence about him, because he was solid. He made some good saves. He was 6-foot-3 on every shot, which is a good thing for a goalie. He played well. We got a win.
— Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock on rookie goaltender Garret Sparks, who made 24 saves in his first NHL start, a 3-0 win vs. Oilers
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