DETROIT – For all their Stanley Cups and memorable playoff victories, the Detroit Red Wings haven't done anything like this in a long, long time.
Henrik Zetterberg and Valtteri Filppula scored less than two minutes apart in the third period, and the Red Wings came from behind again for a 3-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night, forcing a decisive seventh game after trailing 3-0 in the pulsating second-round series.
Detroit is the eighth NHL team to force a Game 7 after starting a series with three straight losses. The Red Wings did it themselves once, but that was back in 1945, and they ended up losing the finale to Toronto.
"It'll be a new game with both of us having an opportunity," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "We have lots of guys who've risen to the occasion many times in their career."
After a night full of missed chances and agonizing bounces, the Red Wings scored three times in the final 9:22, delighting a delirious crowd at Joe Louis Arena that seemed even more boisterous than usual. Game 7 is Thursday night at San Jose.
The Sharks must defend home ice to avoid becoming the fourth NHL team to lose a best-of-seven series after leading 3-0. Logan Couture scored early in the third period for San Jose, but Zetterberg tied it with 9:22 remaining, and Filppula scored the winner with 7:28 left.
Darren Helm added an empty-net goal. This was the first game in the series decided by more than one goal.
Detroit scored the last three goals of Game 5 to win 4-3.
The Red Wings are the second team this season to erase a 3-0 series hole. Chicago did it in the first round before losing Game 7 at Vancouver. Philadelphia came all the way back last year in the second round, winning the final four games against Boston.
Those recent successes make the task now seem less daunting.
"We've just got to go out there and win one game," Detroit defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom said. "That's it. That's totally our approach. We can't relax because every game has been so tight and so close. We're not done yet. That's going to be the same approach for Game 7."
According to STATS LLC, four NHL teams have rallied from a 3-0 deficit but lost a seventh game.
Skating with confidence — as well as a hint of desperation — the Red Wings outshot San Jose 45-25, but they were on the verge of elimination after Couture batted a rebound out of midair and the puck trickled past goalie Jimmy Howard with 16:06 remaining. The puck barely crossed the goal line before Howard covered it with his glove, but the goal stood after a review.
San Jose's lead was short-lived, and now the Sharks head back to California with only one more chance to close out the series.
"Just ask Detroit. They lost three in a row and their confidence wasn't frayed," San Jose forward Joe Thornton said. "We're a confident group, still. You work 82 games to get home ice in these Game 7s. Now we just have to make it work."
Zetterberg tied it by deflecting a wrist shot by Niklas Kronwall past goalie Antti Niemi, and the Sharks never regained momentum. Filppula put Detroit ahead, converting a nice cross-ice pass from Pavel Datsyuk.
The Red Wings outplayed the Sharks from the start. At the midway point of the first period, Detroit had an 11-1 edge in shots.
"We put up an embarrassing effort. It's nothing to do with Xs and Os. It's about whatever it takes to get yourself ready," Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray said. "This was unacceptable, but we have to move away from it. We've got an important game Thursday."
In the second period, Detroit's Danny Cleary wasted what was the best chance to that point. He had a clean breakaway when he came out of the penalty box just as his team was clearing its zone. Cleary made a nice move around Niemi but hit the side of the net with the goalie down and out.
That miss nearly cost the Red Wings, but they made it a moot point with a late rally that kept their season going.
Now, Detroit is on the verge of an even greater comeback.
"I think you have to believe all the time, whatever the score is, even if you're behind, that you can come back," Filppula said. "Believing we can, it's definitely a big part of it."
NOTES: San Jose F Ryane Clowe missed Game 6 because of an undisclosed upper body injury. Clowe leads San Jose with 13 points this postseason. ... The Red Wings were without RW Johan Franzen, who reinjured his left ankle in Game 5. Veteran forward Mike Modano rejoined the lineup after playing in only one other game this postseason. ... ... San Jose F Patrick Marleau, called "gutless" on national television after Game 5 by former Sharks player and current analyst Jeremy Roenick, had one shot on goal and no points.