Five things that could give the Sharks a sweep
BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency
|San Jose Sharks right wing Devin Setoguchi celebrates his game-winning goal with team-mates Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Patrick Marleau during overtime of Game 3 of the NHL Western Conference semi-finals hockey game against the Detroit Red Wings in Detroit, Michigan May 4, 2011. (REUTERS/Rebecca Cook)
Five ways the Sharks could end this in four
1. STRONG GOALTENDING BY NIEMI
There was a lot of pressure on Antti Niemi after a rough first round, but he certainly has looked like the goalie who won the Stanley Cup last spring with the Chicago Blackhawks.
He made 38 stops in Game 3 Wednesday in Detroit against the Red Wings and has allowed only five goals in three games in the series. He made some huge saves in OT and should have received more credit for the Sharks win.
2. SHOW KILLER INSTINCT
The Sharks can't get excited about being up 3-0 in this series. That happened to them last spring in this exact situation and they got hammered 7-1 in Game 4. Sure, the Sharks were able to close out the series at home. But this year they'd probably prefer to have a couple of days off to put their feet up and relax. They need to strike early on the Wings and not give them a chance.
3. KEEP FRUSTRATING THE TOP PLAYERS
Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk scored what should have been the winner in Game 3, but he really hasn't done a whole lot in this series. Neither have Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen.
The Sharks have done a good job making sure the Wings chances are from the perimeter. If that trend continues in Game 4, this series should be over in short order. No need to go back to San Jose.
4. CONTINUE TO BEAT JIMMY HOWARD
OK, the Detroit goalie can't be blamed one bit for the fact the Wings are down 3-0 in games. It's not his fault, but he hasn't made the big saves when the Wings have needed him the most. The way the series has gone, that would be just about every time the puck has been dropped.
Howard hasn't been the biggest issue for the Wings, but the Sharks have found a way to score timely goals.
5. KEEP IT LOOSE
The Sharks dressing room is a fun place right now. Lots of smiling and lots of laughter. In the Detroit dressing room, it hasn't been that way since the first game of the series. A more experienced lot.
San Jose can't get too uptight at the prospect of winning a series in four games for the first time in team history. No sense in giving the Wings another life. The Sharks need to continue to have fun but serious enough to close it out.