The Sharks clearly did not get what they wanted Thursday out of Game 4 in Detroit, losing 7-1 instead of coming home with the series wrapped up.
During their six game winning streak leading up to Thursday night, the Sharks were insistent that during the playoffs they need to put that day’s game behind them before the next day came as that was the time to begin focusing on the following contest. Now they need to do the exact same thing following a loss.
“We have to,” said Joe Pavelski
. “Whether it’s an overtime loss or a loss like this, it’s a loss. We’re a better team than that. We need a little more pushback, but there is a lot more hockey to be played. We need to get back to our game plan. We were in the box a lot. Every game is a new challenge.”
“You’ve got to put it behind you,” said Marc-Edouard Vlasic
. “You’re going to lose games, but you’ve got to bounce back from them. You can’t get too high or too low and come Saturday we’ve got to play desperate.”
Still, they will take what they can from the game.
“You’ve got to learn from that,” said Rob Blake. “There were three to four mistakes on each one of those goals. Our level of play has to be much higher.”
“We have to take what we can from tonight and learn from it, it is a learning experience for this group,” said Pavelski. “It’s a little adversity and we’ve got to respond to it.”
Detroit simply had the tenacity needed in a win or stay home situation.
“They were desperate and wanted to play that hard,” said Blake. “We need to get that desperation in our game now. We did not have it at all in the first period. We need to be ready for that.”
There are always plays in a hockey game that if they had gone differently could have altered the entire face of the game, but the game’s first power play and a two-on-one break could not give San Jose the early advantage. Then things went south.
“We made a lot of stupid mistakes we haven’t made in the last month or so,” said Dan Boyle
. “A lot of dumb mistakes. Bounces were going their way tonight, but when you work hard, you get those bounces. They earned them is what I’m trying to say.”
Hockey is not international soccer and the aggregate score does not count, but what does count is the series total and the Sharks still lead 3-1.
“The next game is a new one,” said Clowe. “We’re still up 3-1. There are lots of things we need to get better at, but we will be better the next one. We were on a pretty good run and we lost a game. We’ve been is situations where we’ve won and we had to forget the game. Detroit will be coming to our building and we’ll be fired up and ready to go. We’ve been through a couple of ups and downs these playoffs, so we’ll be fine.
“It was one game and now we have a chance to go back home and recover,” said Evgeni Nabokov. Tomorrow we’ll get back to work.”
Game 5 will be played before the HP Pavilion faithful and the Sharks will have a distinct advantage. In this week’s Sports Illustrated Poll, 272 NHL players were asked “What Is The Toughest Road Arena To Play In?” Most players picked the HP Pavilion (19%), followed by Montreal’s Bell Centre (14%), the Chicago’s United Center (13%), the Philadelphia’s Wachovia Center (12%) and the Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena (10%).
“We’re going to be excited to get back to our crowd and in our rink,” said Pavelski. “We’ve had success there and a good start will go a long way for us.”
“We’re going back home so we’ve got to play the way we have the last three games,” said Vlasic.
“We’ve had a good home record all year long so now we’ve just got to go home and (take care) of business,” said Joe Thornton
McLellan traditionally doesn’t speak to the lockerroom immediately following the contest and went in the same direction Thursday.
“I leave them alone, that will happen tomorrow when we go through the game and review it,” said McLellan. “If I have to go in there and talk to them, shame on them. They played the game and saw the same game that I watched. We are all very disappointed and I haven’t used that word in a good month around our hockey club. Not so much that we lost, but that one, we were not prepared when we knew what was coming. We said all the right things, but did not go out and respond to it and two, we got away from our game. When it wasn’t going the right way, we didn’t stick with it. We have some work to do.”
McLellan did not put all the blame on the players.
“We have to give credit to the Red Wings, they played extremely well,” said McLellan. “I’m in charge of the leadership, it starts with me. After that it trickles down to the lockerroom. I’m disappointed that we didn’t respond. They anteed up and we didn’t.”
Nabokov put a smile on the media’s faces post game when he was asked if he saw a game like this coming.
“Do I look like Sylvia Browne,” joked Nabokov about the late night psychic.
Johan Franzen came up with four goals, including a natural hat trick, against the Sharks and seemed to pick his spots to perfection.
“He was in the right place at the right time every time,” said Boyle.
“What did he have six points? I think that speaks for itself,” said Pavelski.
After the first period, McLellan made a switch in net to Thomas Greiss
, but it was not a reflection on Nabokov’s play.
“The way the night was going, we didn’t want to leave him in there,” said McLellan, noting there was not much support. “He’s played a lot lately. It was time to put Thomas in and sometimes you never know. Sometimes he can go in and spark the team. I actually thought Thomas may have been our best player tonight.”
“It was not one guy, we were all bad,” said Blake.
McLellan knows Nabokov enough that he’s more than comfortable with his netminder for Game 5.
“I’ll leave Nabby alone,” said McLellan. “I’m the last guy that knows a whole lot about goaltending. I’ll tell you that much. Nabby has responded very well in the past.”
Tickets for Game 5 will go on at 10 a.m. on Friday at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office or through the ticket link on sjsharks.com.
Game 5 will take place Saturday at 7 p.m. and the contest will be on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.