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Sharks will see if they've learned Game 4 lesson

by Dave Lozo /
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."

Defenseman Dan Boyle said the Sharks only gave 90 percent in Game 4 last year when nothing short of 100 percent will do against the Red Wings. Devin Setoguchi, who scored three goals in Game 3, said the Sharks weren't in the right frame of mind going into the contest.

"I think maybe we just got a little too confident in the position that we were in," Setoguchi said. "It didn't work out very well. We've prepped for this game and know what to expect. Now it's just going to be a matter of executing our game plan well and basically, it's just going to be a man's game, as Todd would say."

The Red Wings made it a point of emphasis to crash the crease of Antti Niemi during Game 3. Nicklas Lidstrom's first-period goal was a result of that philosophy, as was the goal scored by Patrick Eaves in the second period.

According to Boyle, playing a "man's game" is simply preventing the Red Wings from running them over and matching their intensity.

"They feel they got to us a little bit more in the third game as far as getting the puck to the net and getting guys to the net," Boyle said. "We just have to be strong and firm and play good D. And that's not just the defensemen. It's forwards coming back helping out. It's just everybody being desperate."

The Sharks know full well the Red Wings won't roll over down 3-0. They don't have to look any further than last year.

"They'll probably be loose, which will work in their favor," McLellan said. "I don't want our team to be overtight. You don't win that many Stanley Cups and don't have that many Hall of Famers walking around the building without pride and commitment to each other. They'll play. Without a doubt, they'll play."

"If there's any team that can come back from 3-0, we know it's them," Setoguchi said. "If we're not ready to go, it's not going to be very pretty for us."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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