-- Seven years have passed since the Detroit Red Wings
have played in one. It will be just the fourth time that the Anaheim Ducks
have ever suited up for one.
It's a fitting way to decide a tightly played Western Conference Semifinal series between teams that have claimed the last two Stanley Cups.
"We knew it was going to be a tight series," Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg
said. "It's not really a big surprise going to seven games."
Anaheim ended Detroit's streak of clinching eight consecutive playoff series on the road, which includes last season's Game 6 triumph against Pittsburgh in the Stanley Cup Final. Goals by Ryan Getzlaf
and Corey Perry
in Game 6 Tuesday night backed a 38-save effort from Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller
to force a decisive seventh game Thursday in Detroit.
"They were better than us tonight, that's all," Detroit winger Dan Cleary
said. "They realized the situation they were in."
The Red Wings, though, can look back to their last Game 7 for inspiration. In the 2002 Western Conference Finals, Detroit routed Colorado, 7-0, as Dominik Hasek
pitched a shutout in goal and the Red Wings chased Patrick Roy
to end one of the most contentious playoff series of all time.
"Oh, it's going to be fun," said Cleary, looking forward to his first Game 7. "I think it's going to be a tight game. We've played well all season long for home ice. Now let's take advantage of it."
Over their long Original Six history, the Red Wings are 11-7 in Game 7s. The last time they've lost one at Joe Louis Arena came in 1994 when they were shocked by the upstart San Jose Sharks
The Ducks have only played in a Game 7 on three occasions but they've been moderately successful.
In 1997, Anaheim defeated Phoenix, 3-0, in the West Quarterfinals to cap a comeback from a 3-2 deficit in its first playoff series. In 2006, the Ducks won their most recent Game 7 by winning 3-0 in Calgary after having to win Game 6 at home.
The most famous Game 7 Anaheim has played came in the 2003 Stanley Cup Final when New Jersey ended the then-Mighty Ducks' magical run with a 3-0 victory. But if the end of Game 6 Thursday night at the Honda Center was any precursor, this one might be memorable.
As the final seconds ticked off, Getzlaf and Marian Hossa
traded shots with each other while Anaheim captain Scott Niedermayer
fought with the Red Wings' Pavel Datsyuk
and Perry tussled with Detroit's Brian Rafalski
Cleary downplayed the postgame melee, saying it's two teams that won't freely give an inch of ice.
"There's no intimidation really," he said. "It doesn't matter. It's just two teams battling and being competitive. It's the playoffs. End of the game. No messages were sent in our minds. It just a matter of getting it done in between the whistles, making sure we stay physical on them.
"We're not going to back off one bit."
Anaheim was smarting after a sloppy 6-3 loss in Game 4 at home and a listless 4-1 defeat in Game 5 at Detroit. In a room that contains 12 players from their 2007 title team, the Ducks didn't need to say much about what was at stake prior to Tuesday's game.
"We've been around the game awhile," Niedermayer said. "We know that we weren't as good as we needed to be and needed to be better. That was our focus going into this game and it will stay the same going into the other game in two days."