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Game 3 will test mental toughness

Monday, 04.30.2007 / 12:00 AM ET / News
Detroit Red Wings
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Game 3 will test mental toughness
By The Associated Press

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Jonathan Cheechoo remembers how the San Jose Sharks' playoff run fell apart last spring, and he doesn't see it happening again - even after the Red Wings tied up their second-round series with an awfully familiar goal.

"Now it's a best-of-five," Babcock said. "We should loosen up, relax and get playing. I thought we showed some good leadership in our room and showed some good mental toughness to stick to it."
The Sharks won six of their first seven playoff games last spring, but collapsed in the second round after Edmonton won Game 3 on a triple-overtime score by Shawn Horcoff. San Jose's momentum was irrevocably halted, and the Oilers rolled to four straight wins.

On Saturday, the Sharks were 20 minutes shy of a dramatic two-game sweep to start the clubs' second-round playoff series - until the Red Wings awoke for Dan Cleary's early short-handed goal and Pavel Datsyuk's heartbreaking winner with 1:24 left in Detroit's 3-2 victory.

A familiar script? Not to Cheechoo, who believes the current Team Teal is smarter and more resilient than last season's squad. With veteran experience added to last year's memories, the Sharks believe they'll respond to their only major disappointment so far in the young playoffs when they hit the ice for Game 3 on Monday night.

"You're going to hit snags along the way," Cheechoo said after the Sharks' light practice at their training complex Sunday. "I've never seen anybody run all the way through the playoffs. We just want to keep working and taking advantage of what we can do."

Yet the top-seeded Wings must feel a whole lot better about their chances against the ballyhooed Sharks, who rolled over Nashville in the first round and outplayed Detroit for long stretches of the first two games.

"The experience factor was important," said Dan Cleary, who was called the Red Wings' best player in the playoffs by coach Mike Babcock. "The guys have good composure and we don't panic."

Detroit turned away two San Jose power plays in the third period of Game 2 before Datsyuk and his teammates took advantage of a series of minor Sharks miscues that left the Russian scorer alone in front for a backhand goal.

"Now it's a best-of-five," Babcock said. "We should loosen up, relax and get playing. I thought we showed some good leadership in our room and showed some good mental toughness to stick to it."

Now the Sharks' mental toughness will be tested in front of another frenzied sellout crowd at the Shark Tank - and San Jose has passed nearly every test in that area so far this season.

The Sharks have won nine of their last 11 home games, losing only two overtime decisions to Vancouver. They played two model home games against the Predators in the first round, constantly outworking Nashville in both contests for deceptively narrow victories.

That work ethic carried over to Detroit, but Sharks coach Ron Wilson bemoaned a handful of lapses that turned Game 2 in the Red Wings' favor. San Jose limited Detroit's offense to 22 shots Saturday - a total that wouldn't be out of place in a single period for the high-powered Wings.

"We got a split in Detroit, we totally limited their offense, and we were so close to scoring the third goal (in Game 2) it was unbelievable," Wilson said. "You're not going to keep them off the board long, and we know they'll be better. We have to be better."

Wilson will put rookie center Joe Pavelski back in his lineup for Game 3, probably in place of Mark Bell. He doesn't plan to change anything else about the Sharks' effort, hoping the same style and intensity will get an added boost from the home crowd.

Joe Thornton, who leads the club with nine points in an outstanding postseason so far, will remain in charge of the Sharks' slumping power play, which dropped to 3-for-37 in the playoffs after an 0-for-6 performance in Game 2. Wilson and Thornton are resisting the urge to panic so early in a long spring.

"I thought we did good getting a split, but we had a chance to do something that a lot of teams could never do in Detroit," said Cheechoo, finally got his first goal of the postseason in Game 2. "We have to concentrate for the full 60 minutes and do what makes us successful."

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
P. Datsyuk 66 16 33 7 49
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80