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Published: Thursday, 5/12/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

Wings seek historic win

'1 game at a time' mentality working for Detroit

BY ZACH SILKA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard has a .926 save percentage in the last three games for the Red Wings -- all victories. Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard has a .926 save percentage in the last three games for the Red Wings -- all victories.
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It was 1942, and the Detroit Red Wings found themselves on the wrong side of history.

Leading 3-0 in the Stanley Cup Finals against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Wings allowed the Leafs to win three straight and tie the seven-game series at 3-all. Then in Game 7, Toronto proved victorious again and became the first team in NHL history to overcome a three-game series deficit and complete the remarkable comeback.

Since then, two other teams have repeated that same feat -- the New York Islanders in the 1975 Campbell Conference semifinals and the Philadelphia Flyers in last year's Eastern Conference semifinals.

Thursday night, the Red Wings have a chance to be on the right side of history and become the fourth team in NHL history to come back to win a playoff series after trailing 3-0 when they take on the San Jose Sharks on their home ice at 9 p.m. at HP Pavilion in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals.

To pull off a comeback of this magnitude, it takes a special group.

In the eyes of Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom, this is a special group.

"It's about not giving up and keeping our heads down and just plugging along and hanging in there and finding ways to get shots on net and scoring goals," Lidstrom said after the Wings' 3-1 victory in Game 6 on Tuesday night at Joe Louis Arena. "I think we've showed a lot of resiliency just by doing that."

Lidstrom has often repeated his mantra of "one game at a time" throughout the series against the Sharks, and his teammates have bought into that approach.

"Nobody was feeling bad about us being down 3-0 in the series, and we weren't about to hang our heads either," said Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, who has a .926 save percentage in the last three victories over San Jose.

"Even though we were down 3-0, there was still a calmness around this team. We just looked around the room and just went to work for each other."

From Detroit coach Mike Babcock's perspective, his team should have never been in this position.

"I didn't think we should have been down 0-3," Babcock said. "I thought we played real well and had a chance to win them all, but so could they. That's how tight this series has been."

San Jose coach Todd McLellan said he doesn't plan to address the historic ramifications of allowing a 3-0 series lead to crumble with his team.

"We'll ignore it," McLellan said. "At 3-nothing, we had won three games in a row. At 3-3, they've won three games in a row. That's why these series are all odd games. It doesn't matter how we got here. It really doesn't. What matters is how it ends."

Both coaches also dismissed any notion of momentum carrying over from one game to the next, instead believing that momentum is generated anew at the drop of the puck in each contest.

Even so, the Sharks couldn't wait to get out of town Tuesday night, departing Joe Louis Arena almost immediately after the Game 6 loss.

The Wings, on the other hand, flew out of Detroit Metropolitan Airport Wednesday morning after a good night's rest in their own beds.

Either way, the Sharks are happy to be playing Game 7 at home and the Wings are content to still be playing.

"We've played well at home, and a lot of you [the media] asked me before the series began what home ice meant," McLellan said. "I guess we'll find out now."

Contact Zach Silka at: zsilka@theblade.com or 419-724-6084.



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