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Can Sharks stop Red Wings' run at history?

5/12/2011

For the third time in less than a year -- and the second time this postseason -- there will be a Game 7 in a series in which a team was down 3-0 as the Detroit Red Wings face off Thursday against the San Jose Sharks. Before last season, that hadn't happened in 35 years.

The Red Wings found themselves in the hole, but have rallied to win the past three games. It's the eighth time in NHL history a team has forced a Game 7 when down 3-0, double the instances in the NBA and MLB combined.

Despite the recent abilities to come back in the NHL, teams up 3-0 dominate the respective sports. No team in NBA history has come back from a 3-0 series deficit and only the 2004 Red Sox have done it in MLB.

The Red Wings are trying to become the fourth to do so in NHL history, and the second in as many seasons. The Philadelphia Flyers last season did it in a conference semifinal against the Boston Bruins.

Detroit is playing in its 22nd Game 7 all-time, which is tied with the Montreal Canadiens for the most in NHL history. Conversely, the Sharks will be hosting a Game 7 for just the second time in their history, and first since 2008 when they beat the Calgary Flames.

This will be San Jose's seventh Game 7 all-time, with a 4-2 record in the previous six. For most of the players on the Sharks' roster, this is fairly new territory. Only four Sharks have even recorded a point in a Game 7, and neither of the Sharks' goalies (Antti Niemi and Antero Niittymaki) has ever played in a Game 7.

The key for the Red Wings in this series has been their penalty killing. In Games 1-3, the Red Wings allowed at least one power-play goal. In Games 4-6, the Red Wings have killed all 10 power plays against them.

If Detroit gets four goals you can pretty much say game over. The Red Wings have won 59 straight playoff games when scoring at least four goals.

If the Sharks are going to advance to the conference final, they must do a better job closing games out. The Red Wings have outscored the Sharks 6-2 in the third period of the past two games despite being outshot 24-19.