San Jose Sharks goalie Antti Niemi, of Finland, pauses as his team falls behind the Detroit Red Wings during the third period in Game 5 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Western Conference semifinal playoff series in San Jose, Calif., Sunday, May 8, 2011. Detroit won 4-3. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
ROMULUS, Mich. - The Detroit Red Wings are confident they will beat the San Jose Sharks for a third straight time and force a Game 7.
The Red Wings arrived home Monday after avoiding elimination in San Jose, and Detroit coach Mike Babcock was asked if he hoped to get back on the team plane one more time.
"We're getting on it," Babcock said.
The Red Wings must beat the Sharks on Tuesday night in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinal series to make a trip back to San Jose necessary on Thursday.
Detroit general manager Ken Holland seemed to like Babcock's boast.
"That's what's got us to this point," Holland said. "When we were down 3-0, nobody wanted to go home.
"We plan to be flying back for Game 7."
The Sharks, of course, want to force the Red Wings to make other plans.
"You try to eliminate teams when you have a chance to," San Jose forward Joe Thornton said. "So we're going to go in there and try to eliminate them. That's the game plan."
San Jose's chances to end Detroit's comeback will probably improve if Patrick Marleau and Thornton, its top two scorers during the regular season, lead the way.
Marleau is pointless through five games and Thornton has been held to a one assist since the Sharks surged to a 3-0 series lead in the second-round rematch.
Former Sharks player and current analyst Jeremy Roenick called Marleau "gutless" on national television after Game 5, but Marleau refused to fire back.
"I can't control what people say or anything like that," Marleau said.
Marleau, who had two goals and five points in the first round against Los Angeles, defended his play against Detroit.
"I think I've done some really good things," he said "They haven't showed up on the score sheet, but there's another game to play."
The Red Wings hope there are two more games, giving them an opportunity to do something for the first time in their storied history.
Detroit has never won a series after losing the first three games, but only three NHL teams have: Philadelphia last year, the New York Islanders in 1975, and Toronto in 1942. The defending champion Chicago Blackhawks won three straight to force a Game 7 in Vancouver in the first round this year, but then lost to the top-seeded Canucks.
The second-seeded Sharks and third-seeded Red Wings have combined for an entertaining, highly competitive series in which the difference in each game has been one goal.
San Jose has lost the past two games 4-3, blowing a 3-1 lead at home in the third period on Sunday night after rallying to win Game 3 in overtime in Detroit.
"It was tough to go to bed (Sunday) night knowing we gave one away, but it's a new day," Sharks defenceman Dan Boyle said Monday morning, when the team flew from San Jose into gloomy skies. "I guess you have to try to be positive and look ahead, and that's what we're going to do."
The Red Wings might have to do something they hadn't planned on, putting veteran forward Mike Modano in the lineup because Johan Franzen reinjured his left ankle in Game 5. Babcock said Modano will be on the ice if Franzen can't play.
"Modano is chomping at the bit," Holland said.
Pavel Datsyuk wouldn't acknowledge if he aggravated his right wrist that was broken in December. The Russian only said that he is looking forward to getting back on the Red Wings' plane for Game 7.
"Have good seats," Datsyuk said.
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