(EDITOR'S NOTE: This is part 7 of 10 in a series on rivalries. Red Wings 101 will count down the top ten current rivals of the Detroit Red Wings. Fans are encouraged to comment with memories from past games that they may have seen in the past.)
The next team on the list has been the biggest adversary in the playoffs since they came into the league. Adding to the fire is that this team's head coach was once a Red Wings assistant. Checking in at number 4:
No. 4 San Jose Sharks
The Sharks have been a thorn in the side of the Red Wings in recent years, especially in the playoffs. Both teams have met five times in postseason play, with the Red Wings winning the matchups in 1995 and 2007, and the Sharks winning the matchups in 1994, 2010, and 2011.
1994 was the first meeting in the playoffs between both teams. It was also the first time that the Sharks had made the postseason in franchise history. In a matchup of the 1-seed (Red Wings) vs. the 8-seed (Sharks), the series would come down to a Game 7 at Joe Louis Arena. It was in the third period when Detroit goaltender Chris Osgood left the net to play a puck in the corner. But Osgood made the mistake off firing the puck to San Jose forward Jamie Baker. Baker shot at a wide open net and scored what would prove to be the series-winning goal. The teams met again in the Conference Semifinals in 1995, and the Red Wings would get revenge by sweeping the Sharks.
The teams met again in the 2007 Conference Semifinals. The Red Wings had a tall order in front of them despite having home ice advantage, as they had not won at HP Pavilion since 2005. In Game 4, with the Sharks leading 2-0 and the series 2-1, the Red Wings would get a goal from Robert Lang with 33 seconds left to tie the game. Mathieu Schneider would score the game winner in overtime to turn the series around. The Red Wings would win Game 5 4-1 with four unanswered goals, and won the series in Game 6 by getting a 2-0 shutout courtesy of Dominik Hasek.
After the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in 2008, assistant coach Todd McLellan was hired as head coach of the Sharks. McLellan used everything he learned under Mike Babcock to help the Sharks' playoff woes, including installing the same puck-possession offense that the Red Wings run.
The teacher and the student met in the playoffs in 2010, and despite the Red Wings outscoring the Sharks (mostly due to a 7-1 shellacking in Game 4), the Sharks won the series in five games.
DEFINING MOMENT: There are plenty to choose from among the aforementioned, but let's go back to the 2011 playoffs. Reminiscent of 2010, the Sharks had won the first three games, all by one goal. The Red Wings took Game 4 at the Joe courtesy of two Nick Lidstrom goals and a game winner from Darren Helm. Game 5 appeared to spell the end of the Red Wings' season when they trailed 3-1 in the third period. But the Red Wings had other ideas, as they would get third period goals from Jonathan Ericsson, Danny Cleary, and Tomas Holmstrom, plus a 39-save performance from Jimmy Howard to win Game 5 4-3.
The Red Wings would then win Game 6 3-1, erasing a 3-0 deficit to send the series to a Game 7. But the Sharks would prevail 3-2 on home ice.
Honorable mention goes to Game 4 in 2010. With the Red Wings winning big, the Sharks lost their cool, and started racking up penalties. Among them was Sharks' forward Joe Thornton trying to fight Lidstrom. Red Wings' forward Justin Abdelkader and the Sharks' Scott Nichol both got into a fight with each other, and the Red Wings' Kris Draper and the Sharks' Ryane Clowe were both ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct.
No. 10: Montreal Canadiens
No. 9: Toronto Maple Leafs
No. 8: Vancouver Canucks
No. 7: Anaheim Ducks
No. 6: St. Louis Blues
No. 5: Pittsburgh Penguins
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