Pressure's on in Detroit

Detroit Red Wings' Niklas Kronwall and teammates celebrate a goal scored by Darren Helm against the...

Detroit Red Wings' Niklas Kronwall and teammates celebrate a goal scored by Darren Helm against the San Jose Sharks during Game 4. (REUTERS/Rebecca Cook)

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:10 PM ET

SAN JOSE - The Detroit Red Wings hope they’ve planted a seed of doubt in the Sharks’ dressing room.

Down 3-1 in the Western Conference semi-final after a gutsy 4-3 victory Friday at Joe Louis Arena, the Wings are are still on the ropes as they prepare for Game 5 against San Jose Sunday night at the HP Pavilion.

But, if the Wings are able to extend the series and send it back to the Motor City for Game 6 Tuesday, then Detroit coach Mike Babcock is quite certain there will be huge pressure on the Sharks by then to close this out.

“They want to win a game and we want to win a game,” said Babcock Saturday. “Right now, they’re (up) 3-1. They’re in a different situation than our situation. The reality is, as you know, as these things go on, if a team can crawl back in it, these things get tighter and tighter.”

The Sharks are breathing easy at the moment.

But, don’t think for a second everybody here isn’t talking about the way the Chicago Blackhawks were able to close a 3-0 gap on the Vancouver Canucks to tie the series and send it to Game 7 in the first round.

The Wings and San Jose both made the long trek to Southern California immediately after Game 4 and had skates in the late afternoon at the Sharks’ practice facility in the suburbs. There was nothing taxing for either team.

“This is the big one,” said Wings’ centre Kris Draper. “I think Game 5 is huge. We’re coming into their building and they obviously want to end the series. We’re doing everything we possibly can to force Game 6. We’re going to lay it all on the line.”

At this point, Detroit is just happy to be alive. They stared elimination in the face, pulled out to a 3-0 lead in Game 4, nearly blew it, but were able to keep enough composure to get the winner from Darren Helm late in the third.

The approach is simple: One game at a time.

The Wings aren’t really much better off than they were 48 hours ago. They’re still down in the series, San Jose is still in control and Detroit needs three straight victories.

The Wings took the play to the Sharks from the start, but slowly allowed San Jose to creep back in it when Dany Heatley tied it up in the third. Detroit has yet to play a full 60 minutes in this series and that has to be a concern.

“We know we have to come out and win the next game as well,” said Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom. “You do whatever you have to do to win the game. We’ve got to have the same approach going into (Sunday).

“We know they’re going to play better. They’re going to come after us playing at home. They’ll be a desperate team. We knew what we had to do (Friday), we had to win. It’s going to be the same approach (Sunday).”

The towel had pretty much been thrown in on the Wings’ season when they dropped a 4-3 OT decision in Game 3 in Detroit. The club hadn’t been swept since 2003 and the Wings refused to just hand over the series.

The thinking in the Detroit room: The players have come this far why not force another game?

“Guys were just happy to get that first win. We just have to go from there and try to get another one. Who knows?,” said Wings’ defenceman Brad Stuart.

The pressure only builds if Detroit wins again.


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