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Taking The First Game

by San Jose Sharks Staff / San Jose Sharks
Three years have passed since the San Jose Sharks won the opening game of a playoff series. Exactly 1,099 days.

The date: April 26, 2007. The situation: Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals at Joe Louis Arena. The opponent: the Detroit Red Wings.

Back then, the Sharks were the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference, while Detroit was No. 1. And the Sharks won 2-0.

This time, the roles are reversed. The Sharks are the top seed while the Red Wings are fifth.

San Jose’s 4-3 win over Detroit in Game One of the 2010 Western Conference Semifinals on Thursday marked the first time in four series that the Sharks won the initial game of a series. In fact, the victory was San Jose’s first in a series opener at home in five tries. The last Game One win (2-1) was on May 7, 2006 against Edmonton in the Western Conference Semifinals.

Yes, the win was important for the Sharks. They held off a very experienced team, one who’s been in the last two Stanley Cup Finals. The victory also sent a message to the Wings.

“The message is: no one’s quitting,” said Joe Pavelski, who scored two of San Jose’s goals. “You lose the first game and the desperation goes up. It was good to win the first game at home. No one’s quitting in this series.”

And that message carried over from San Jose’s six-game quarterfinal series win over Colorado.

“We battled hard in that first series and fought a lot of adversity and bad bounces,” Devin Setoguchi said. “We felt as a team that we played well. We just have to keep putting in the work. If we consistently keep putting in the effort and work hard, it’s going to turn out good for us.”

“No game is easy,” Evgeni Nabokov said. “None of the games are easy for us.”

Setoguchi and his teammates know what happened to the President’s Trophy-winning Washington Capitals in their quarterfinal series against No. 8 seed Montreal. The Caps were up 3-1, but lost the last three games and the series.

“We like to go up 1-0, but we want to stay focused and keep a level head,” Setoguchi said.

All of these postgame comments mirror the attitude of Head Coach Todd McLellan.

“It’s great to have a 1-0 lead, but that’s all it is,” McLellan said. “There are six more games left. Tonight’s game was an evenly matched game. It could’ve gone either way. We were lucky to get the last one across the goal line.”

“We won the first game, but that’s all it is,” Dan Boyle said. “I know I’m ‘Debbie Downer’ sometimes, but that’s it. There’s so much work to be done. It’s going to get tougher and tougher.”

“They’re experienced,” Pavelski said of the Red Wings. “You saw them in Game Seven (against Phoenix) the other day. We expect them to get their rest. We have to get ours and be sharp on Sunday.”

Joe Pavelski’s team-leading second power play goal put the Sharks ahead 1-0 in the first period. He added another power play goal in the third period. His seven goals this postseason also leads the team and ties him with Mikael Samuelsson (7) for the lead league. Pavelski’s second three-point game (2+1=3) put him in a tie for second overall with Henrik Zetterberg and Samuelsson (11) in postseason scoring and give him a personal single postseason high.

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