A year ago to the day, the Detroit Red Wings lost in overtime at home to the San Jose Sharks by a score of 4-3 to fall into a 3-0 hole in the series. On Wednesday night, the Red Wings were looking to prevent history from repeating itself when they went into overtime in Game 3 of the series tied 3-3. They were unable to, though, thanks to San Jose's Devin Setoguchi, who scored at the 9:21 mark. Setoguchi's game-winner gave San Jose yet another one-goal victory and a 3-0 lead in the series over Detroit for the second year in a row.
Just as he finished off the scoring, Setoguchi got the scoring started on Wednesday night. He buried the puck in the first period after it bounced off the glass behind the net and right to him, giving the Sharks a 1-0 lead on yet another power-play goal allowed by the Red Wings.
Detroit got a power-play goal of its own with 22 seconds left in the first period when Nicklas Lidstrom put the puck past Antti Niemi and a couple Sharks defenders. The puck redirected out of a pile to Henrik Zetterberg, who passed it between his legs to a trailing Lidstrom. The Red Wings captain had his shot go off the camera in the net and bounce right out, so for a few seconds there was confusion. Finally it became evident Detroit scored to tie the game at one goal apiece after 20 minutes of play.
The second period saw three total goals and two more were on the power play. The one that was at even strength was a goal by Patrick Eaves, who had the puck go to him after Darren Helm lost control in front of the net. Eaves banked it in off Niemi to give the Red Wings their first lead of the night. It didn't last long, though. Setoguchi scored yet another power-play goal on a shot that went much slower than Jimmy Howard expected. Howard got caught out of position as a result and Setoguchi tied things up. The tie, like the Wings' lead, didn't last for long. Less than four minutes later Pavel Datsyuk scored a power-play goal off a beautiful feed from Zetterberg, and Detroit took a 3-2 lead into the third period.
The Red Wings seemed content with playing the prevent as time ran off the clock in the third. Despite only being up by one goal, the Red Wings were very conservative and seemed to be playing not to lose rather than to win. That ultimately turned out to be a mistake, because Dan Boyle came backdoor and shot the puck past a falling Howard at the 15:52 mark. The game was tied 3-3 and just like last year in Game 3, the Sharks and Red Wings were headed to overtime.
Five minutes into the extra session Setoguchi was called for a holding penalty after dragging down Todd Bertuzzi. The Red Wings were unable to score their third power-play goal of the game, and two minutes after he left the box Setoguchi became the hero by scoring his third goal of the night. The game-winning goal was set up by Joe Thornton, who made Jonathan Ericsson look silly as he maintained possession in Detroit's zone. Thornton found Setoguchi, who fired the puck at the net and had it redirect off Zetterberg's stick for the game-winning goal.
Just like last year, the Red Wings are down 3-0 in the series to the Sharks in the second round of the 2011 NHL playoffs. Just like last year, every loss has been by one goal. And just like last year, they lost Game 3 at home in overtime on a disheartening goal to make the score 4-3. To say the least, the Red Wings are in trouble.
Last year Detroit bounced back from another disappointing loss by annihilating the Sharks in Game 4. Johan Franzen had a big night by scoring four goals, and the Wings won by a score of 7-1. They appeared to have a lot of momentum on their side as the series shifted back to San Jose, but yet again the Sharks won a one-goal game as they eliminated Detroit in five. If the Red Wings want to even take the series to five games this year, they are going to have to win on Friday in Game 4. A loss will send them packing after being swept, whereas a win will at least extend their season to Sunday night.
At this point it's looking highly unlikely that Detroit will pull off a comeback and return to the Western Conference final for the first time since 2009. You never say never in hockey considering we just saw Philadelphia come back from a 3-0 deficit against Boston a year ago and eventually make it to the Stanley Cup final, but the Wings just aren't getting the bounces. Their play is inconsistent, and the Sharks are outworking them. To make matters worse, former Wings assistant and current Sharks head coach Todd McLellan just seems to have Detroit's number, as evidenced by the 2010 NHL playoffs and this year's postseason so far. Barring a miracle, I think it's safe to say McLellan and the Sharks are headed back to the conference finals for the second straight year.