NEW YORK -- The San Jose Sharks and Detroit Red Wings will complete their Western Conference Semifinal series when they meet in Game 7 Thursday at HP Pavilion of San Jose (9 p.m., ET, VERSUS, TSN, RDS). The winner advances to face the Vancouver Canucks in the Western Conference Final beginning Sunday in Vancouver.
This epic series has epitomized the excitement, tension and unpredictability of Stanley Cup Playoff hockey. Each of the games has been decided by one goal, excluding an empty-net goal in Game 6. In four games, the winning team trailed in the third period. Two of the games have been decided in overtime. The teams have been tied or separated by one goal 90% of the time (336:43 of 376:24).
After teams losing the first three games failed to force a Game 7 in 112 consecutive series from 1976 to 2010, the Red Wings are the second club of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs and the third in the past calendar year to extend the series to the limit. The Philadelphia Flyers broke the streak last year against the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, followed last month by the Chicago Blackhawks against the Vancouver Canucks in Western Conference Quarterfinals.
The Red Wings will attempt to complete the ultimate comeback that has been achieved just three times in NHL history. The Toronto Maple Leafs overcame an 0-3 deficit to defeat Detroit in the 1942 Stanley Cup Final, followed 33 years later by the New York Islanders against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a 1975 quarter-final series and, after a gap of 35 more years, by the Flyers against the Bruins last season.
Completing the comeback is an extreme rarity in the NHL -- the three successful clubs represent just 1.8% of the 167 clubs that have attempted it -- as well as in the other major professional sports leagues. Just one club in the history of Major League Baseball has done it, the Boston Red Sox in 2004 against the New York Yankees, and no club in the National Basketball Association has accomplished the feat.
The Red Wings, who will be contesting their fourth Game 7 in the past three playoff years, have 22 players with Game 7 experience. Defensemen Nicklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski each have made eight appearances, the most among players on both rosters.
The Sharks' current roster features eight players who played in their most recent Game 7, a 5-3 win over the Calgary Flames in the 2008 Western Conference Quarterfinals, and 11 players overall with Game 7 experience.
|Career Game 7 Player and Goaltender Statistics: San Jose vs. Detroit|
|San Jose Goaltenders|
|Antti Niemi (--)||--||--||--||--||--|
|Antero Niittymaki (--)||--||--||--||--||--|
|San Jose Head Coach -- Todd McLellan (0-0)|
|Chris Osgood (6)||378||2-4||2.38||1||.901|
|Jimmy Howard (1)||60||1-0||1.00||0||.970|
|Chris Osgood's Game 7 History|
|6/12/09||PIT 2 at DET 1||Loss||18|
|5/14/09||ANA 3 at DET 4||Win||27|
|4/22/03||STL 1 at VAN 4||Loss||32|
|4/30/02||NYI 2 at TOR 4||Loss||29|
|5/16/96||STL 0 at DET 1 (2OT)||Win||29|
|4/30/94||SJS 3 at DET 2||Loss||17|
|Jimmy Howard's Game 7 History|
|4/27/10||DET 6 at PHX 1||Win||33|
|Mike Babcock's Game 7 History|
|4/27/10||DET 6 at PHX 1||Win|
|6/12/09||PIT 2 at DET 1||Loss|
|5/14/09||ANA 3 at DET 4||Win|
|6/9/03||ANA 0 at N.J. 3||Loss|
|SAN JOSE, DETROIT RECORDS IN GAME 7|
|San Jose Sharks (4-2)|
|4/22/08, Western Conference QF vs. Calgary (CGY 3 at S.J. 5)|
|5/15/02, Western Conference SF vs. Colorado (S.J. 0 at COL 1)|
|4/25/00, Western Conference QF vs. St. Louis (S.J. 3 at STL 1)|
|5/19/95, Western Conference QF vs. Calgary (S.J. 5 at CGY 4, 2OT)|
|5/14/94, Western Conference SF vs. Toronto (S.J. 2 at TOR 4)|
|4/30/94, Western Conference QF vs. Detroit (S.J. 3 at DET 2)|
|Detroit Red Wings (13-8)|
|4/27/10, Western Conference QF vs. Phoenix (DET 6 at PHX 1)|
|6/12/09, Stanley Cup Final vs. Pittsburgh (PIT 2 at DET 1)|
|5/14/09, Western Conference SF vs. Anaheim (ANA 3 at DET 4)|
|5/31/02, Western Conference Final vs. Colorado (COL 0 at DET 7)|
|5/16/96, Western Conference SF vs. St. Louis (STL 0 at DET 1, OT)|
|4/30/94, Western Conference SF vs. San Jose (S.J. 3 at DET 2)|
|5/1/93, Norris Division SF vs. Toronto (TOR 4 at DET 3, OT)|
|4/30/92, Norris Division SF vs. Minnesota (MIN 2 at DET 5)|
|4/16/91, Norris Division SF vs. St. Louis (DET 2 at STL 3)|
|5/3/87, Norris Division Final vs. Toronto (TOR 0 at DET 3)|
|4/15/65, Semifinal vs. Chicago (CHI 4 at DET 2)|
|4/25/64, Stanley Cup Final vs. Toronto (DET 0 at TOR 4)|
|4/9/64, Semifinal vs. Chicago (DET 4 at CHI 2)|
|4/14/55, Stanley Cup Final vs. Montreal (MTL 1 at DET 3)|
|4/16/54, Stanley Cup Final vs. Montreal (MTL 1 at DET 2, OT)|
|4/23/50, Stanley Cup Final vs. NY Rangers (NYR 3 at DET 4, OT)|
|4/9/50, Semifinal vs. Toronto (TOR 0 at DET 1, OT)|
|4/5/49, Semifinal vs. Montreal (MTL 1 at DET 3)|
|4/22/45, Stanley Cup Final vs. Toronto (TOR 2 at DET 1)|
|4/3/45, Semifinal vs. Boston (BOS 3 at DET 5)|
|4/18/42, Stanley Cup Final vs. Toronto (DET 1 at TOR 3)|