NHL: Sharks hope to avoid repeat of last season’s Game 4

Sharks

The Sharks have a 3-0 lead over the Red Wings in the Western
Conference semifinals, just as they did last season. The Wings went
on to beat the Sharks, 7-1, in Game 4 before Detroit lost the next
game in San Jose.
— Story by George Sipple, Detroit Free Press

The San Jose Sharks felt fortunate to win, 4-3, in overtime in Game 3 on Wednesday and talked Thursday about the need to play better tonight in Game 4.

The Sharks have a 3-0 lead over the Red Wings in the Western Conference semifinals, just as they did last season. The Wings went on to beat the Sharks, 7-1, in Game 4 before Detroit lost the next game in San Jose.

Several Sharks said they didn’t need the reminder about last year’s Game 4.

“You don’t look back,” said San Jose forward Devin Setoguchi, who scored a hat trick, including the game-winner in overtime Wednesday. “We focus on what our task is and what our job is and not focus on what has happened before. Do what we can control.”

Setoguchi said some areas of concern in Game 3 were breakouts and crisp passing.

“The execution wasn’t there,” he said. “It led to turnovers and the turnovers led to odd-man rushes and situations where when you do that to a great hockey club they make you pay for it sooner or later.”

As for the chance to sweep the Wings, Joe Pavelski said: “We definitely want to handle this position a lot better than we did last year. Starts go a long way (ASTERISK) make sure the effort is there early on.”

He said there are no worries about being too confident against the Wings.

“You don’t feel overconfident just knowing what’s over there,” Pavelski said. “They’re a good team and they play hard every night and there’s been a few games in this series that could go either way.

“We realize we’re going to have to better than we were (Wednesday).”

FIVE OVER: The Sharks improved to 5-0 in overtime games this postseason with the victory in Game 3 on Wednesday — 20 overtime games that have already occurred in the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Defenseman Dan Boyle said one reason for the rash of overtime games is the parity in the NHL.

“Teams are closer,” Boyle said. “The systems are pretty identical, so teams don’t want to give up too much defensively, don’t take as many chances as maybe they used to in the past. It’s that close and I guess that’s good for hockey.”

The Sharks are halfway to the record of 10 overtime victories in the playoffs, a mark set in 1993 by the Canadiens, who went on to win the Cup.

“It’s just about being ready,” said goaltender Antti Niemi . “You don’t know what’s going to happen in overtime. You just have to make the next save. I don’t mind. We’ve been able to win those.”

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