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Ducks believe they can avoid third Game 7 heartbreak

by Curtis Zupke / NHL.com

ANAHEIM -- The psychological aftermath of two Game 7s the past two years is not the favorite topic for the Anaheim Ducks, but they acknowledged the pain Thursday.

"You know," defenseman Francois Beauchemin said, "losing those last two Game 7s has been hard on everybody."

Left wing Andrew Cogliano said, "[The] last Game 7 took a toll on us."

Cogliano and Beauchemin went on to say the Ducks are a different team going into Game 7 of the Western Conference Final against the Chicago Blackhawks at Honda Center on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

History is not on Anaheim's side. Its past two seasons have ended with a Game 7 loss at home, to the Los Angeles Kings in the 2014 second round and to the Detroit Red Wings in the 2013 first round. That led to two straight offseasons answering questions about failing to seize the moment against proven opponents with more mettle.

"The last two years, we were a different team," Beauchemin said. "We were a younger team. We added some players last summer that have been making the difference all year long for our team. Like I said, it's not going to be the same Ducks that played Game 7 the last two years."

Anaheim said all the right things going into the previous Game 7s but didn't translate it to the ice. The Ducks trailed the Kings 2-0 less than nine minutes into that game and looked out of place allowing two first-period goals to the Red Wings.

Anaheim added center Ryan Kesler this offseason and their young players, notably goalie Frederik Andersen, matured around Beauchemin, captain Ryan Getzlaf and right wing Corey Perry, three players from the 2007 Stanley Cup-winning team.

Chicago is playing its fourth Game 7 in five seasons; it lost the deciding game of last year's conference final to Los Angeles in overtime, 5-4.

The combined Game 7 record of Blackhawks players is 28-30; the Ducks' is 7-29.

"I think we have guys now on the team, guys that have been brought in, that have been in these situations before, I think know what it takes to win," Cogliano said.

"I think if guys are ready to play, ready to execute, ready to play in the system and compete as hard as they're going to compete, then I think we're going to give ourselves a chance to win and we'll be successful. But it's going to be tough. It's going to take our best game. They're a team that wants it as bad as we do. It should be, obviously, as good of a game as you'll see in the series."

A seventh game seemed a natural destination for the series, given its closeness and dramatic turns. It has so far rivaled last season's conference final between Chicago and Los Angeles, perhaps with more skilled players and thrilling pace.

"For me, this series is the most exciting series I've ever been a part of," Beauchemin said.

Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau, ever cautious and positive-thinking, said his players are prepared for the stage.

"I think the guys that have been here for the three years know what's happened," Boudreau said. "If we have to draw on extra motivation for a Game 7, with a chance to play for the Stanley Cup, I think we've got the wrong guys. That's something I don't think we have. I think we have the right guys, is what I'm trying to say."

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