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Sharks Are Frustrated, But Still In Control

by Alison High / San Jose Sharks
San Jose Sharks center Joe Pavelski (8) scores past Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard (35) during the second period in Game 5 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Western Conference semifinal playoff series in San Jose, Calif., Sunday, May 8, 2011. Detroit won 4-3. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Following the Sharks 4-3 loss on Sunday, frustration was felt throughout the locker room. Panic, however, was not.

Yes, the opportunity to close out the series had been lost, but the Sharks will only have to wait two days before they have another shot at it. So they’re putting this game behind them and focusing on Game 6.

“It’s tough and it hurts right now, but we have to look at it like we’re up 3-2 in the series,” said Sharks center Logan Couture. “And we’re going to Detroit with a chance to win it again. We have to continue to play better. It was a tough one tonight, but we’ll come out tomorrow and get ready for Game 6.”

“We’re trying to get to four wins,” said Sharks center Joe Pavelski. “But we’re not there yet. We’re going into their building and we just played two games there so we know what to expect. We’re going to come in ready to go. We’re not backing down. We still have the lead here.”

With the series extended, the Sharks will now fly back to Detroit for another chance to eliminate the Red Wings on Tuesday. The team departs Monday morning and should arrive in Motor City around 5 p.m. local time.

Although they would have preferred to finish the series at HP Pavilion, the Sharks do have a positive record at Joe Louis Arena. During the regular season, they went 2-0 in Detroit. Last week they split the two games, 1-1.

San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton (19) celebrates after right wing Devin Setoguchi scored against Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, rear, during the first period of Game 5 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Western Conference semifinal playoff series Sunday, May 8, 2011, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
“We’re a confident team,” said Sharks captain Joe Thornton. “We played well. We’re still feeling good about ourselves. Yeah, it’s a tough loss, but we just need to go in and win in Detroit – which we’ve done in the past.”

“We can’t hang our heads,” said Sharks right wing Devin Setoguchi. “We can’t get down on ourselves. We have to refocus and come back tomorrow and get ready for another game.”

Following the game, Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan left his players alone to discuss what happened. Explaining that he would have five hours to talk to them on the plane, he felt that it was best to let his leaders address the team instead. Those players advised the team to put the game behind them and move on.

“We didn’t play a poor game and that’s hard to swallow,” said McLellan. “We didn’t give up many opportunities. I thought we actually had some poise and control in the third period. They took advantage of some of our mistakes and put them in the net. We get five minutes to hang our heads and feel sorry for ourselves and we’re already starting the recovery processes.”

The San Jose Sharks led 3-1 early in the third period following Couture’s goal, but then allowed three unanswered Detroit Red Wings goals and fell 4-3 in Game 5.

San Jose Sharks goalie Antti Niemi (31) catches a puck shot by a Detroit Red Wings player as Detroit right wing Daniel Cleary (11) watches during the first period of Game 5 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Western Conference semifinal playoff series Sunday, May 8, 2011, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
“Our collapse in the third period was a group effort,” said McLellan in the postgame press conference.

The Red Wings netted all three third period goals on just six shots. McLellan was quick to point out that Sharks’ netminder Antti Niemi does not hold sole responsibility.

“He could be better; we can all be better,” McLellan said.

“I thought he made some really good saves when he had to,” he continued. “We had a little miscommunication on the wrap around goal, Cleary’s goal and that was costly. When you’re in the thick of it, playing such intense hockey, mistakes are made. I don’t think we gave Niemi the verbal cues he needed at that point and there was a hesitation getting to the puck and it ended up in our net.”

San Jose will shift their focus to Game 6 Tuesday night.

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