There was no sugar coating of Game 6 by the Sharks players following the 3-1 loss. An empty netter prevented a sixth consecutive one-goal game in the series, but Detroit controlled the play most of the way and that was unsettling to everybody.
“Obviously we deserved what we got,” Dany Heatley said. “We didn’t play hard enough. They played harder than us in most areas.
“The score should have been five or six to one, but Nemo gave us a chance to steal one,” Logan Couture
said. “We’ve got one game to save our season, to continue to play. I know no one in this room wants to end their season the next game, so we’ll have to fight a lot harder than tonight. We just weren’t good.”
Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan reiterated what he team stated.
“The performance tonight was disappointing,” McLellan said. “I thought one team skated. The other team did not skate at all. That was pretty evident the first two periods. We started to find some legs in the third.”
San Jose struggled to put up shots early in the game as Detroit held a dramatic 18-6 shot lead through 20 minutes. They ended the night outshooting Team Teal 45-25.
“We didn’t even test him tonight, it’s just disappointing,” Couture said. “We didn’t get many opportunities.”
There was a brief bit of joy on the night when Couture batted a puck out of mid-air to give San Jose a 1-0 third period lead, but the home club responded with three unanswered tallies to complete the second third period comeback in as many games.
Now the Sharks will have to bring their A game to Game 7 at HP Pavilion.
“We worked hard to get it at home,” Couture said. “We have the home ice advantage. Our crowd is going to be loud. We’re going to need a better effort than we had tonight. One game at home and we’re looking forward to having a chance to step up and continue to play.”
San Jose is in the exact same spot their potential opponent in the next round was in during Round 1. Vancouver led the series 3-0 before Chicago captured three straight to tie things up. Vancouver used a home Game 7 to eventually prevail.
“It’s too bad we didn’t finish tonight, but we’re going to try and do it in front of our home fans,” Thornton said. “You work 82 games to get home ice for these Game 7’s, now we have to make it work.”
The team definitely relishes the chance to play Game 7 at home and knows there will be some advantages.
“Anybody that’s been in our building understands the noise level and the rabid fans that we have,” McLellan said. “The support level we get in San Jose is remarkable. We’ll have it in Game 7 and we’ll have to make sure they leave the rink happy. That is our job.”
Despite three consecutive losses, there is a level of confidence about heading home where the Sharks won initial two contests of the series and outplayed Detroit for most of Game 5.
“It’s one game and I think we’re going to be able to win one,” Niemi said. “It’s great to get a game at home and we have the puck more at home. I think it’s an advantage for us.”
Just as the Red Wings never lost their confidence after the losing three straight, the Sharks know a similar effort to Game 5 could bring a victory and put the last three contests behind them.
“Just ask Detroit, they lost three in a row and their confidence wasn’t (lost). We’re a confident group,” Thornton said.
“There is no doubt in my mind, there shouldn’t be any doubt in any other players’ minds,” Couture said. “There is doubt in the media, but that’s the outside world. This lockerroom has been tight all year and it continues to be tight.”
It is simply a one and done tournament for the Sharks at this stage.
“At 3-0, we had won three games in a row. At 3-3, they won three games in a row. That’s why these series are all odd games,” McLellan said. “We could be in the exact same situation by (alternating) winning one and losing one. It doesn’t matter how we got here, what matters is how it ends. That’s how we’ll approach it.”
To a man, the Sharks players know their netminder gave them what was necessary on Tuesday.
“Obviously Nemo played great and (almost) stole a game,” Thornton said. “He played super. He gave us a chance to win, we just couldn’t. A fantastic performance. When a goalie plays like that you feel like you (will steal one).”
“He was good, he held us in the game,” Heatley said. “He kept us in the game in the first and the second. He was unbelievable tonight.”
Couture had scored the Sharks only goal, but he was upset with himself on the turnover that allowed Detroit’s game-winning goal.
“Just a bad turnover by me. I take full responsibility for that,” Couture said. “I’ve got to make a better play. I was just trying to go off the boards to let Mitchy skate onto it. I didn’t see Filppula there. That can’t happen in the playoffs. It’s my fault. I wish I could go back and make a different play, but what’s done is done. I’ve got o move on and think about the next game.”
Game 7 will be at 7 p.m. on CSN California, 98.5/102.1 FM and www.sjsharks.com.