GLENDALE, Ariz. - While on their way to 50 wins and their first playoff berth since 2002, the Phoenix Coyotes were labelled a feel-good story and a Cinderella.
They believe a Game 7 win Tuesday will show they're much more. "We just don't want to be, 'Oh, this is a nice story.' We want to be a good team and a good team for a long time," coach Dave Tippett said. "You get in situations like this, it can push you ahead."
A series victory would be the Coyotes' first in six attempts since moving from Winnipeg to Arizona for the 1996-97 season and the franchise's first since 1987.
The Detroit Red Wings, meanwhile, are trying to stay alive for a third straight trip to the Stanley Cup finals and avoid a second straight series loss after holding a 3-2 lead. They failed to close out Pittsburgh in last season's finals and that 2-1 defeat is still on the minds of the Red Wings.
"I'm more or less still mad about last year's Game 7," said backup goalie Chris Osgood, last season's starter. "None of that even has a bearing on this game in Phoenix."
The Coyotes are hosting the first Game 7 of these NHL playoffs, but home ice hasn't meant much in this series. The road team has won four of the six games so far.
Tippett said he believes being the host will matter Tuesday.
"Home-ice advantage is only good if it comes down to a Game 7," he said. "We worked hard to get home-ice advantage. If you're going to play a Game 7, I'd rather play it in front of our home fans."
Detroit coach Mike Babcock said after Game 5 he didn't want to "tempt fate" with another game in Glendale and echoed those comments after Game 6.
"No question about it, when you have anybody down you want to get rid of them," said Babcock, who opted not to practice Monday.
Still, his confidence in his team hasn't been shaken.
"They're a good team, but we think we're a better team," Babcock said. "The better team advances, pure and simple."
The team that moves on will finally end an undesirable streak.
The Red Wings haven't won a Game 7 on the road since a 1964 victory at Chicago in the opening round.
The Coyotes are 0-4 in Game 7s and have scored a combined one goal in those contests.
Captain Shane Doan is the only remaining member of the last Phoenix team to reach a Game 7 - 1999 against St. Louis - and it remains to be seen if he will participate in this one.
Doan hasn't played since his right shoulder took the brunt of his collision with the endboards early in the second period of Game 3.
He went through his first full practice Monday since suffering the upper-body injury, but he remains a game-time decision.
"I tested it. It feels pretty good. We'll see," he said.
Despite not playing, Doan has still found a way to be a presence.
"Doaner's been really good around the dressing room while he's not in," Derek Morris said. "He's made guys stay positive. He had a really emotional speech, a good speech for us before the game (Sunday). Guys took it to heart."
Phoenix scored five goals, its series high, but Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard said the Coyotes "got lucky."
"I'll take that same luck tomorrow," Robert Lang responded.
Detroit will be leaning heavily on its experience. The Red Wings are 4-4 in Game 7s since 1991, when their streak of 19 straight post-season appearances started. They have won seven of their last eight series and haven't lost in the first round since 2006, Babcock's first season in Detroit.
"We have a mentally strong group," said Kris Draper, one of seven Red Wings players who have won multiple Stanley Cups. "We have a lot of leadership, a lot of experience, a lot of playoff games under our belt and now these are the experiences that we're going to draw from."