Antti Niemi played his best game of the playoffs, and only has a third straight loss to show for it.
In a game that could have easily been four or five to nothing heading into the third period, Niemi was the only Shark the seemed to be aware that this was the team's most important game of the season.
This was the team's last chance to put Detroit away without it being for all the marbles.
After the way San Jose's best players played tonight, who is your money on in game seven?
If it's Joe Thornton (I think he played, right?), Patrick Marleau and any other Shark besides Logan Couture and Dan Boyle, then you haven't been paying attention.
The San Jose Sharks are on the ropes.
1. Game 5 was the game where their offense was firing on at least two or three cylinders as they held a 3-1 lead heading into the third period.
They failed to hold that lead, and folded under the hurricane-esque, tornadic activity offense that the Red Wings have been sending towards Niemi's crease in waves.
2. Game 6 was the game their goaltender could have stolen for them—the ex-Hawk and proud owner of a Stanley Cup ring almost singly glove-idly willed his team across the finish line.
But you're going to have to score more than one goal against these Red Wings.
If I'm a Sharks fan, I am pulling playoff beard hair out after tonight's game. Detroit out-hustled and showed more urgency than the Sharks could match.
Dan Boyle made several outstanding plays, and the team had the physical edge in the first period.
But that's really it as far as positives go. Marleau didn't respond to Roenick's call out whatsoever, and was promptly moved back to the first line after the second line experiment was a catastrophe.
And what are they paying Dan Heatley for again? To snipe a few goals here and there, I thought. Certainly to show up when the game—no, the season—is on the line. Perhaps the Sharks should bury his contract in the minors and use the substantial savings to investigate ways to clone Logan Couture and Devin Setoguchi.
Who was that who dropped the assignment on Valtteri Filppula's go-ahead goal?
I'll leave the YouTubing to you, my friend.
Now, both teams are on a plane heading back to San Jose for what is sure to be a good ol' fashioned slug fest at the Shark Tank. Given the way the Sharks responded towards the end of the game—with thuggery and clear signs of aggravation—Detroit better be ready for another physical contest.
Unfortunately for these Sharks, hits haven't led to goals and don't count for points.
Fortunately for Red Wings fans, this 2011 version of the team is on the verge of history due to San Jose's similarly historic inability to answer the bell and finish teams.
Champions have a killer instinct that all the coaching in the world can't inspire.
Either you find the shifts in yourself and as a team to advance or you don't.
Right now, Darren Helm, Niklas Kronwall, Niklas Lidstrom, the one-armed wonder Pavel Datsyuk, and so on, all want to advance. They are dying to play the Canucks on no rest. The same can't be said for the Sharks because this series has gone on a week longer than it has had to for San Jose.
Anything can happen in a Game 7. The Sharks could finally shed their identity as playoff under-achievers, win this thing, and quickly leave it in the rear-view like the Canucks did in Round 1 against Chicago.
I don't think that happens though.
Detroit has done far too good of a job controlling their highs and lows. There has been momentary jubilation, and then it has been back to business. This comeback has been fluid, natural and business-like for the Red Wings.
And the collapse of San Jose has been equally systematic.
For some unknown reason Detroit seemingly expected to be heading back to San Jose for a Game 7 after dropping the first three.
With each game it has become easier to see things through their visors. Now the Red Wings, for the first time in a long, long time, have the chance to prove themselves us underdogs and as a team no one gave a fighting chance to.
What will become of the Comeback in Hockeytown? All questions about the drive of the aging Red Wings and the desire of the Sharks will be answered come Thursday.
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