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Ducks loose, confident heading into Game 7

by Curtis Zupke

ANAHEIM -- Viktor Fasth walked over to the stereo and turned up The Who’s “Eminence Front.” A few minutes later, Bob Marley’s voice permeated the room. As Sheldon Souray spoke to reporters, Sami Vatanen playfully joined the scrum and used a water bottle as a microphone.

Yes, the Anaheim Ducks locker room was surprisingly loose Saturday after the team got in at 2 a.m. following an overtime loss to the Detroit Red Wings in Game 6 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals.

Game 7 is Sunday at Honda Center (NBCSN, RDS, TSN, FS-D, FS-W) , and the Ducks appear to have shaken off an unhappy down plane ride home.

“Guys will rise to the occasion,” defenseman Luca Sbisa said. “We’ve been a team that usually plays the best in situations like that. We have a lot of confidence. We don’t need motivation, any energy boost. You’re so amped up, you have to control your energy and your emotions because you’re so fired up to play … but I think everyone is looking forward to it, and it’s going to be a great feeling when [you] come back into this dressing room as the winning team.”

Anaheim has shown flashes of brilliance in this series countered by complete lapses or bad starts. It erased a 4-1 deficit in the third period of Game 2, only to fall in overtime, and it erased a 3-1 deficit with fewer than four minutes left in Game 6, only to lose in overtime. It also took a slow start in Game 2 and failed to curb a huge Detroit push in the second period of Game 5.

One common thread Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau sees is Detroit’s ability to get traffic to shield or distract goalie Jonas Hiller. The overtime goal in Game 6 was that type of goal.

“We have to be aggressive and try to get positioning, but with the way things are called, we have to also be not overaggressive,” Souray said. “What you want to make you’re doing is, hopefully, [Hiller] can make the first save and you don’t want to let them have two or three whacks at it. … If we can try to move some bodies out there, or make sure, if there is rebounds, clear it. That’s got to be our thing.”

This will be the second Game 7 in five years between the teams; Detroit's Dan Cleary pushed a puck across the goal line in the waning minutes in the 2009 conference semifinals. Souray pointed out that his team has performed well in big games this season against the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings.

“We’ve played some good teams and we’ve … played well,” Souray said. “It’s another game I expect we’ll be ready for. We’ve done it all season long. We’re going to approach it as another big game.”

Boudreau has extensive experience in Game 7s, mostly on the losing side. He was coach of the top-seeded Washington Capitals who were upset by the Montreal Canadiens in 2010. Boudreau split a pair of Game 7s in 2009 and lost in 2008 in his first year as Capitals coach.

Boudreau said it’s much more fun to be a player than a coach in a Game 7.

“Game 7 playing is a tremendous amount of fun,” Boudreau said. “Game 7 coaching, not so much.”

Asked about his postgame wind down, Boudreau said, “We had a five-hour flight so there was not much else to do. But you sit there with your thoughts and you sit and think about what you have to do the next day. … You know they’re down when you lose a Game 6 in overtime and they’re not feeling so good about themselves, so you try to build them back up, and that’s hopefully what we did today.”

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