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Wings go for the kill vs. Ducks

by Eric Stephens / Detroit Red Wings
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- As if the task of coming back from a 3-2 deficit to the defending Stanley Cup champions isn't difficult enough, the Anaheim Ducks will also face a Red Wings team that knows how to finish a playoff series on an opponent's ice.

The Red Wings have won the last eight times they had an opportunity to clinch a playoff series, including last June in Pittsburgh when they hoisted their 11th Stanley Cup at Mellon Arena after a Game 6 victory over the Penguins.

So far this postseason, the Red Wings have already finished off a team on the road -- they won Game 4 in Columbus to finish a sweep of the Blue Jackets. As much as they'd like to clinch a series in front of their home fans, they don't need the cozy environs of Joe Louis Arena.

Left wing Dan Cleary simply said the Red Wings have proven to be a good road team over the years and aren't fazed by any kind of frenzied atmosphere an opposing team's fans might provide. In other words, the Honda Center might be rocking on Tuesday night -- but the Wings know that Anaheim is feeling the pressure to stave off elimination.            

"When you've got a team down, you've got to be able to put a foot on their throat," Cleary said. "You've got to really knock them out. You've got to realize the situation. They're backs are against the wall. You've just got to match their intensity and their will."

Detroit hasn't had to win a series in seven games since the 2002 Western Conference finals. That said, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said the task won't be easy as he expects Anaheim to throw everything at his team.

"Teams are always hard to beat," Babcock said. "I think Columbus was a great example. We ended up winning 6-5 in a crazy game where we were in control of it twice. That to me is usually how these final games go. They're tough.

"Anaheim is preparing so they can play again. They'll have a Game 7 mentality and we have to have the same."

The Ducks have rallied from a 3-2 deficit twice in their history, having eliminated Calgary in the 2006 Western quarterfinals and Phoenix in the 1997 Western quarterfinals -- the first playoff series Anaheim ever participated in.

"I guarantee they don't want to go back to Detroit for a Game 7," Ducks defenseman James Wisniewski said of the Wings. "Anything can happen. Our goal is to come out with all the energy in the world. Fire some more shots on net and create some more opportunities for ourselves and play a high up-tempo game.

"It's a no-holds-barred situation. It's do or die. You win, you're still alive. If you don't, you die."

Both teams didn't do much Tuesday morning prior to Game 6. None of the Anaheim regulars came to the Honda Center, while most of the Detroit regulars stayed off the ice, although a number of them kicked the soccer ball around in the hallway outside the dressing room.

The Red Wings figure to have defenseman Brian Rafalski back in the lineup. Rafalski hasn't played in the series after suffering an undisclosed upper-body injury as Detroit prepared for Anaheim following its four-game sweep of Columbus in the first round.
Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson is also expected to play after sitting out practice Monday to rest his bruised right foot, which was injured in Game 5 when he took a shot off of it. Veteran center Kris Draper will not play -- he will miss his 10th consecutive playoff game because of an upper-body injury.

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