Red Wings 3, Sharks 1

Wings win again to force Game 7

Sharks drop third in a row to Detroit

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By Noah Trister
Associated Press / May 11, 2011

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DETROIT — Valtteri Filppula and the Detroit Red Wings kept their season going with another late rally.

Now, they’re on the verge of an even greater comeback.

Henrik Zetterberg and Filppula scored less than two minutes apart in the third period, and the Red Wings came from behind again for a 3-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks last night, forcing a decisive seventh game after trailing 3-0 in the pulsating second-round series.

After a night full of missed chances and agonizing bounces, Detroit scored three times in the final 9:22 at Joe Louis Arena.

Game 7 is tomorrow night at San Jose.

“I think you have to believe all the time, whatever the score is, even if you’re behind, that you can come back,’’ Filppula said.

San Jose will try to avoid becoming the fourth NHL team to lose a best-of-seven series after leading 3-0. Logan Couture scored early in the third for the Sharks, but Zetterberg tied it with 9:22 remaining, and Filppula got the winner with 7:28 left.

Darren Helm added an empty-net goal. Every other game in the series was decided by one goal.

“I didn’t think we should have been down 0-3, we could have won them all, so could they,’’ Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “That’s how tight this has been.’’

Detroit scored the last three goals of Game 5 to win, 4-3.

The Red Wings are the second team this season to erase a 3-0 series hole. Chicago did it in the first round before losing Game 7 at Vancouver. Philadelphia came all the way back last year in the second round, winning the final four games against the Bruins.

Those recent successes make the task now seem much less daunting.

“One of the things we’re fortunate to have is the leadership and the calmness of the guys who are a bit older,’’ Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “There’s no panic at any time. We just stuck to the game plan for 60 minutes. That’s the only way you can do it. If you don’t believe, then you’re done.’’

Skating with confidence and desperation, the Red Wings outshot San Jose, 45-25, but they were on the verge of elimination after Couture batted a rebound out of midair and the puck trickled past goalie Jimmy Howard with 16:06 remaining.

San Jose’s lead was shortlived, and now the Sharks head back to California with only one more chance to close out the series.

“Just ask Detroit. They lost three in a row and their confidence wasn’t frayed,’’ San Jose forward Joe Thornton said. “We’re a confident group, still. You work 82 games to get home ice in these Game 7s. Now we just have to make it work.’’

Zetterberg tied it by deflecting a wrist shot by Kronwall past goalie Antti Niemi, and the Sharks never regained momentum. Filppula put Detroit ahead, converting a nice cross-ice pass by Pavel Datsyuk.

“We put up an embarrassing effort. It’s nothing to do with X’s and O’s. It’s about whatever it takes to get yourself ready,’’ Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray said. “This was unacceptable, but we have to move away from it. We’ve got an important game Thursday.’’

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