Big story: There are few who predicted the Sharks would have a chance to sweep the Red Wings in this series, but that's exactly what could happen Friday night at Joe Louis Arena. It's been a repeat of last year's conference semifinals between the teams, with San Jose taking the first three games. If form holds, the Sharks could be in trouble -- at least on Friday. The Red Wings smoked the Sharks, 7-1, in Game 4 last season to send the series back to Detroit. The Red Wings have gotten better with each game in this series, and both teams agreed they were the better team in Game 3. If they bring the same effort in Game 4, it's very possible the series will shift back to San Jose for another Game 5.
Sharks: Whether they are down a goal in the third period or embroiled in a pressure-filled overtime, the Sharks never waver from the game plan. After rallying for an overtime victory in Game 1, they did the same thing in Game 3. Devin Setoguchi scored three goals, including the game-winner, to push the Sharks to the brink of their second straight Western Conference Finals appearance.
Despite this series looking a lot like last year's with the Red Wings, players are disconnecting themselves from it and focusing on the present.
"You don't look back on last year," Setoguchi said. "It's been a totally different run. We started out of the playoffs in January, last place in our division, and we clawed our way back up. We just turned ourselves into a better hockey club. There's no comparison to last year."
Red Wings: During the two games in San Jose, the Red Wings started strong but were slowly grinded down by the attacking style of the Sharks. In Game 3, however, the Red Wings played their best game of the series and were four minutes from cutting the Sharks' lead in the series in half.
But Dan Boyle tied it to force overtime and Setoguchi won it. Despite the result, the Red Wings are staying positive and believe they can still win the series.
"When we woke up this morning, we got here and we had to stop feeling sorrow and get back to work," goaltender Jimmy Howard said during Thursday's practice at Joe Louis Arena. "We have to have that mentality of 'Why not us?' It has happened before in sports, but we can't get ahead of ourselves. We have to win one game."
Who's hot: Boyle has 1 goal and 3 assists in this series. … Henrik Zetterberg has 1 goal and 2 assists in the past two games after failing to register a point in his first postseason contest of 2011 in Game 1.
Injury report: Neither team has any injuries of note to report.
Stat pack: The Sharks are 5-0 this season in overtime and can realistically catch the record of 10 overtime wins set by the Montreal Canadiens in 1993. … Both teams have had effective power plays in the series. The Sharks are 4-for-15; the Red Wings are 3-for-12.
Puck drop: "I believe in being positive. That's how I live my life. That's how I deal with my family. That's how I deal with every game. In other words, I just think that I'm going to disarm the bomb. I've always thought that. That's how a coach thinks. Whether that's selective memory, whether that's being hard-headed or that's just not being that smart … whatever you want to call it, I'm just a believer." -- Red Wings coach Mike Babcock