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Wings confident at home for Game 3

by Michelle Crechiolo / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT – There’s no panic in the Red Wings.

They may have a dismal 4-21 overall record in playoff series when they start 0-2, and history may not be on their side with more than 80 percent of teams that win Games 1 and 2 eventually winning the series.

But the Wings have experience on their side, and it’s telling them they can’t look beyond Tuesday’s Game 3. They are 10-5 in the last 15 Game 3’s of a seven-game series after falling behind 0-2.

“You have to take it one game at a time, you can’t start thinking ahead,” Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said following Tuesday’s morning skate at Joe Louis Arena. “You just kind of focus on the game that’s ahead tonight, and get ready for that one and give it all in that game. You can’t really look any further than the one game you’re about to play.”

Veteran forward Kris Draper agreed, saying, “We’re just going to win a game. That’s the bottom line. That’s the only thing we can control right now is Game 3, so that’s what our mindset’s going to be, that’s what our outlook is.”

Both Lidstrom and Draper were on the 2002 Detroit squad that clawed back from being down by two games against Vancouver in the Western Conference quarterfinals, their last series win after falling in an 0-2 hole. The Wings took the series in six games on their way to winning the franchise’s 10th Stanley Cup.

Tomas Holmstrom, Pavel Datsyuk and Jason Williams were all on that championship-winning squad as well.

In that series comeback, the Wings had to take their two-game deficit on the road with them after losing two straight at home. This is the first time since 1988 the Wings have returned home down a pair of games, and they lost that series in five games to Edmonton.

“It’s a little bit different,” Williams said of his team’s chance to even the series on home-ice. “You have the home fans on your side. It’s nice that we’re home for a little while here, we were on the road for it seemed like quite a long time.

“In 2002 when we went down, we were playing good hockey, we just weren’t getting any kinds of breaks or anything. … Tuesday, we just got to be more disciplined and stick with our game plan.”

The Wings have been playing better on the road so far, going 1-2 at JLA and 3-3 in their opponents’ arenas. But they weren’t anticipating being in an 0-2 hole so early in the series, and they’re now looking forward to taking care of business in front of their fans.

“We’re at home, and we feel comfortable playing at home,” Lidstrom said. “You have to play well on the road to have success in the playoffs, but also you have to take care of home ice when you’re at home too.”

The experience the five players from the 2002 team bring to the locker room is invaluable. But Wings coach Babcock cautioned that experience is merely one factor that will contribute to a Detroit victory.

“Experience is a great quality to have, you’ve been through it before, you understand the situation,” he said. “In saying that, you got to play. For us, you can have all the experience in the world. You go to the penalty box 10 times, you’re not going to win. So to me, that’s really straightforward.”

ON THE ROAD: There was concern after Tuesday’s pre-game skate that the Wings might fall victim to the post-travel sluggishness that haunted them in the first round.

The Wings dropped Games 3 and 6 to Phoenix, which were both played the afternoon after landing at Metro Airport.

“The good thing is we’re not playing Tuesday afternoon,” Babcock said. “What I found by coaching in the West and then coaching in the East, to me it’s way harder to come back for an afternoon game than for anything else. So we don’t have to deal with that. It’s just part of being in the Western Conference when you’re an Eastern Time Zone team.”

The Wings may be tired from their repeated travel out West, but Draper waved off the concerns that his team would be fatigued Tuesday, putting their situation in perspective.

“Obviously we had a long day yesterday, but you just realize where you’re at,” he said. “You’re in the Stanley Cup playoffs, you’re in Round 2. This is the greatest time to be a hockey player.”

“LITTLE” JOE: Sharks forward Joe Pavelski has been the Wings’ kryptonite early in the series.

He posted two-goal performances in each game, one of them being the game-winner in the Sharks’ 4-3 win on Sunday.

He leads the NHL in playoff goals with nine. He played an instrumental role in the San Jose’s Game 2 dominance in the faceoff circle, helping his team win an impressive 62 percent of draws.

Babcock is aware of all that. He knows his team has to do a better job of matching up with Pavelski and limiting his time and space. But he wasn’t averse to talking about Pavelski’s rising star.

“He’s been good. Even my wife actually mentioned it to me yesterday, I was driving the kids around and when I got back my wife said to me, ‘Where’s that Pavelski from?’ And I said, ‘Why?’ She said, ‘Well, he’s a stud.’ I said, ‘Well, he played in Wisconsin, thanks for the tip, I appreciate it.’ So it’s pretty obvious that he’s been pretty good so far.”

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