2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs – Semifinals Game 3 Recap
Western Conference Semifinal Game 3 - San Jose 4, Detroit 3 (OT) – Sharks lead series, 3-0
If the 2010 NHL postseason established a template, the 2011 NHL Playoffs are duplicating it. In a stunning case of second-round déjà vu, hockey’s second round produced yet another recurring theme.
While the Boston Bruins have taken a 3-0 series lead over the Philadelphia Flyers for the second straight year, the Western Conference of the NHL has also uncorked an identical development that has mirrored last season’s playoff narrative. The San Jose Sharks have set about destroying the spirit, the will, and the Stanley Cup aspirations of the Detroit Red Wings in methodical fashion, leveling the decisive blow in Game 3 on the road. In order to appreciate what the Sharks did Wednesday night at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, you have to go back one year in time and realize that the sons of Silicon Valley have pulled off this feat before.
In 2010, the Sharks and Wings met in the very same Western Conference semifinal round. The Sharks took two tough games from the Winged Wheel in San Jose and then made the long flight east to the state of Michigan for Game 3. The Wings bolted to a 3-1 lead in the third period of a third game they absolutely couldn’t afford to lose, but the Sharks reeled in their formidable foe down the stretch, scoring two quick goals to earn an overtime period in which Detroit stood on the precipice of a shattering defeat. Sure enough, San Jose was able to deliver the dagger in extra time, smoking Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard to claim a 4-3 win in bonus cantos and take a 3-0 stranglehold of the series. The Sharks eventually won the series in five games, doing much to shed their reputation as early-round chokers in the postseason.
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One year later, nothing – truly – has changed. It was as though all the central characters remained firmly in place, with the same course of events washing over everyone in the drama.
The Sharks, fresh from another pair of hard-fought wins in the San Francisco Bay Area to start the series, journeyed to the Eastern time zone to face the Wings in Motown. Detroit gained a 3-2 lead on a late-second-period goal by Pavel Datsyuk, but in a wild third period that involved plenty of good scoring chances for the Wings, the Sharks somehow ripped out Detroit’s innards. San Jose goalie Antti Niemi stopped 38 shots, and when Dan Boyle found the net after busting through a gap in the Wings’ defense with 4:08 left in regulation, the teams marched into overtime. Detroit carried the play for the first nine minutes of overtime, but Niemi stood tall in net, and when Devin Setoguchi completed a hat trick by scoring in the tenth minute of overtime (at the 9:21 mark), the 3-0 series lead built on the back of a 4-3 overtime comeback win had been duplicated 12 months after the Sharks originally clipped the Wings in 2010.
Want to know how these teams are faring? You can read newspapers in San Jose and Detroit… you can also simply remember what life was like in early May of 2010.
By: Matt Zemek
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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