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Red Wings never stopped believing

by Staff Writer / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT -- Jimmy Howard said it's all about the chance awaiting the Red Wings in less than 48 hours.

"These are moments we dream about," Howard said.

Just six days earlier, however, it was more like a waking nightmare for the Red Wings.

The San Jose Sharks won three straight games and had such a stranglehold on this Western Conference semifinal series. All signs pointed to a second straight defeat of the Red Wings in the playoffs, and more people were getting nostalgic thinking about the possibility of Nicklas Lidstrom playing the final game of his illustrious NHL career.

There weren't many who thought the Red Wings had a chance to become the fourth team in NHL history to win a series after falling behind 3-0. But in the Red Wings locker room, the last thing anyone was talking about was the inevitable of a season and the career of their captain and future Hall-of-Famer.

"I don't think you would've believed it if you came here and saw it after it was 3-0," Howard said. "It was loose, joking around, people laughing and being themselves. I think that's key when you dig yourself into that sort of hole.  You don't hang your head. You pull up yourself and get to work."

Sometimes the discussion will turn to experience, and sometimes it's hard to quantify that it means when things are going poorly. Twice in the past two games, the Sharks dropped the hammer on the Red Wings. Twice, the Red Wings swiped the hammer and brought it down with even more force.

During Game 5, Logan Couture scored less than a minute into the third period, putting the Sharks ahead 3-1. The Red Wings responded with three goals in nearly 10 minutes to cut the series lead to 3-2.

During Game 6, Couture once again scored early in the third period, this time with the game tied and the Red Wings unable to solve the brilliant Antti Niemi. Yet again, the Red Wings delivered another gutsy performance.

The only thing that was shaking Tuesday night was the roof of Joe Louis Arena after Henrik Zetterberg effortlessly deflected a shot by Niklas Kronwall to tie the score. Shortly after that goal, Pavel Datsyuk showed his injured wrist wasn't much of a problem, as he dropped a cross-ice, aerial, backhand pass that fell onto the stick of Valterri Filppula, who scored the winner.

"We didn't get frustrated even when they went ahead," Danny Cleary said.

"It shows that we don't give up," Lidstrom said. "We didn't open ourselves up defensively. We tried to go after them even more. It paid off for us. We're getting pucks at the net at the tight time. We got guys there for tips and screen and rebounds. It was a hard fought game for us.''

After winning three consecutive games that might as well be Game 7s, they'll play a true Game 7 on Thursday night in San Jose. The Sharks say their confidence isn't rattled. The Red Wings are showing they're confidence is doing just fine.

"You'd be lying if you didn't think about (the history)," Cleary said. "We believed that we can and that's the one thing. If you believe you really, really can, and you're just not kidding, yourself then you've got a chance."

"It would be a tremendous feeling to come out on top," Howard said. "But there's still a game to be played. It's probably going to be just as close a game as the first six games have been."

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