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On This Date in Sports April 30, 1994: Shark Bite

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In their first playoff series in their first playoff appearance, the San Jose Sharks completed a stunning upset of the top-seeded Detroit Red Wings, winning 3-2 in Game 7 at Joe Louis Arena. The Sharks were in just their third season.

As the San Jose Sharks entered their third season, they could not have been expected to make the postseason after struggling badly in their first two years, going 17-58-5 in their inaugural season and 11-71-2 in 1993. For the 1993/94 season, the Sharks got a new coach and a new home, as the San Jose Arena opened after the Sharks played at the Cow Palace in their first two seasons, while Kevin Constantine took over behind the bench. Thanks to a strong finish, the Sharks grabbed the eighth seed in the Western Conference with a record of 33-35-16, which was incredible since they started 0-8-1. The Detroit Red Wings, meanwhile, in their first season under coach Scotty Bowman, posted the best record in the West at 46-30-8.

In the Sharks' first-ever postseason game at Joe Louis Arena, they got off to a blazing start, scoring three first-period goals by Shawn Cronin, Igor Larionov, and Sergei Makarov. The Red Wings would rebound to take Game 2 by a score of 4-0 as Chris Osgood stopped all 22 shots. With two goals in the second and a goal by Darren McCarty in the third, the Red Wings rallied to tie the game 3-3. San Jose regains the lead with a goal by Jamie Baker, only to have Gregg Johnson answer to even the game again. With four and a half minutes left, the Sharks again took the lead with a goal by Vladimir Kroupa. It would be the game-winner as the Sharks won 5-4.

As the series shifted to San Jose, Detroit came out flying as McCarty scored on an early tally, as the Red Wings built a 3-0 lead. The Sharks would get a late second-period goal by Rob Gaudreau. They would cut the deficit to one on another power-play score by Makarov in the game’s final minute but could draw no closer as Detroit won 3-2. In Game 4, the Red Wings scored two goals in the first. The game began to turn in San Jose’s favor on a shorthanded goal by Tom Pederson in the second period. The Wings were able to answer to stretch the lead to 3-1, but with goals by Larionov and Ulf Dahlen, the Sharks tied the game heading into the second intermission. Sergei Makarov tallied the only score in the third period as the Sharks won 4-3 to even the series.

In their last chance at home in a 2-3-2 format series, Makarov lit the lamp again, with Tom Elik also scoring to give the Sharks an early 2-0 lead. Detroit would battle back to tie the game as Paul Coffey, and Ray Sheppard scored 40 seconds apart. In the second period, Makarov tallied his fifth goal, as the Sharks again had a 3-2 lead. Ulf Dahlen scored in the third period to make it 4-2. After the Red Wings got back in the game with a shorthanded goal by Nicklas Lidstrom, the Sharks again went up two when Johan Gapenlov scored. The same pattern repeated later as Bob Errey answered a second Lidstrom goal, making the final score 6-4 in favor of the Sharks.

Looking to close the series at Joe Louis Arena, the Sharks gave their worst performance of the series, losing 7-1 in Game 6. In the decisive seventh game, Johan Gapenlov gave the Sharks a lead 48 seconds into the game. Later in the first period, Sergei Makarov scored for the sixth time in the series to make it 2-0. The Red Wings would cut the lead in half with a shorthanded goal by Kris Draper with 13 seconds left in the first. In the second period, Detroit tied the game in the second period on a goal by Slava Kozlov. With Arturs Irbe making the saves, the Sharks again took the lead in the third period on a goal by Jamie Baker off a giveaway by Detroit Goalie Chris Osgood trying to clear the puck. The Wings would not be able to get the equalizer as the Sharks held on to win 3-2 to advance to the second round.

The Sharks would push the Toronto Maple Leafs to seven games in the second round but lost the finale 4-2.