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Red Wings face win-or-go-home game in San Jose

by Rick Sadowski /
SAN JOSE, Calif. – One down, one to go.

Sure, the Detroit Red Wings trail the San Jose Sharks 3-1 in their Western Conference semifinal series and need to win three more times to advance to the next round.

But that isn't how the Red Wings are looking at it. Plain and simple, they have to win Game 5 Saturday night at HP Pavilion in order to keep their season alive and bring the series back to Joe Louis Arena.

"If they lose tonight, they still have two more chances," Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg said after the morning skate. "So, for us, we have to win. Both teams want to win this game and for us, it's win or stop playing. For them, they (would) still have a couple more chances. It's going to be an interesting fight tonight."

The Red Wings, led by Johan Franzen's 4-goal, 6-point performance, are coming off a 7-1 thrashing of the Sharks in Game 4.

"Last game is last game," Zetterberg said. "There's going to be a new fight tonight and it's important to go out and take charge right away."

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock also dismissed any notion of carrying the momentum from that game into Saturday night's match.

"We won a game and now we have to re-establish that here tonight," he said. "I think the start is very important, so you have to be prepared for that and I think you have to put your will on the other team."

Franzen had a hat trick in the first period Thursday when the Red Wings stormed to a 5-0 lead, but the Sharks are known for having strong starts at home while skating before some of the loudest fans in the NHL.

"The first two games we played in here, they had real strong starts, coming out with a good pace," Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "That's something we have to be prepared for and have to match, especially in a crucial game like tonight's game.

"We know what we have to do; we have to win the game tonight. That's our main focus, just like we approached the last game. We know we have to go out and win one game and get this series to continue."

As they have since the series began, the Red Wings are preaching discipline.

It's been a problem for the Red Wings throughout the playoffs. They've been shorthanded 60 times in 11 games -- including 27 times in four games against the Sharks, who have scored four power-play goals.

The Red Wings have had 19 power plays against the Sharks and scored on three of them. They were 2-for-8 on power plays Thursday, while the Sharks were 1-for-5.

For the first time in the series, the Sharks looked frustrated and took more penalties Thursday; they were assessed 11 penalties totaling 41 minutes in the third period, and Babcock is hoping for more of the same.

 "We'd love for them to be going to the box," he said. "That would be outstanding. The big thing here is, we've taken a ton of penalties in this series. We can't take penalties. We've given up a four-on-three and three five-on-three goals. We can't do that to be successful."

On the injury front, Babcock said forward Patrick Eaves, who is nursing an elbow ailment, would miss his fourth game in a row.

Defenseman Brad Stuart's status would be a "game-time decision," Babcock said. Stuart left Thursday's game early in the first period after taking a hit from Sharks defenseman Rob Blake and suffered what the team said is a lower body injury. He left the ice early Saturday but later returned. If Stuart can't play, Brett Lebda would replace him.

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