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Wings look to buck finals home-ice trend

by Christy Hammond / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT -- For the third time since 1978, the home team has won each of the first five games in the Stanley Cup finals including a 5-0 Detroit victory at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday. Pittsburgh hopes to continue this trend, as they will look to feed off of the raucous home crowd Tuesday night to stave off elimination.

“Now we have the task of having to come back here and use the home ice advantage, use the energy of our fans, and use our surroundings to draw even in the series and prove that we're that close,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.

Both teams agreed that match-ups have not played an important determining factor in deciding the outcome of the games thus far.

“I don't think match ups has been the big issue,” captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. “I think the team that's had home ice advantage has played really well at home.  They've gained a lot of momentum from the crowd or what not.  So I think just that in itself has helped the home team playing on their home ice.”

Elimination Game: One team faces elimination while the other hopes to clinch the Stanley Cup. With so much on the line, Game 6 looks to be an exciting contest from start to finish. Wings coach Mike Babcock talked about what his team can expect from the Penguins as their opponent faces elimination.

“Desperation,” he said. “The other thing that happens in the playoffs when you lose a game and you don't play the way you want, you beat yourself up for a couple of days.  Probably not hurt, but you want to be better.  You want to be the best you can be.  You analyze what you did wrong.”

Netminder Chris Osgood commented on how it feels to be one game shy of winning what you’ve spent all season working towards.

“You get excited,” Osgood said. “Because you see the light down the tunnel. It’s such a grind and battle for so long sometimes you don’t think it. But it seems like it’s going to take forever to get there. So when you’re finally here you get excited. The anticipation is, you know, you want to go out and play your best game.”

Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby believes his team just needs to stick to their game plan. If they can do that, he thinks the Penguins will have a chance to win the Cup themselves in Game 7.

“If we win tomorrow we give ourselves a chance in Game 7,” he said. “That's the way it is.  So we're fighting to stay alive here.  I wouldn't go that far.  We're trying to battle as we have all year.  We've got to bounce back.  You know, we've got to have a good game and find a way to win.”

Draper Goes for Fifth Cup: Kris Draper and four other teammates could win their fifth Cup in 12 years with a victory in Game 6 or 7. Even so, the veteran forward still fights off some nerves before big games.

“You still kind of get those butterflies floating around just sitting here and talking about it,” Draper said. “The one thing I've always said is getting this far, getting to this point, I will never, ever take for granted. It's that special. It means so much to myself, my teammates and everyone associated with it. It's a lot of hard work, and we're proud of where we are right now. But with that said, we've yet to accomplish anything.”

A Day Off: After playing the first four games of this series in six days, the remaining three contests are more spread out. The two-day break in between Games 5 and 6 will only help the Wings as they try to heal up and, for some, just catch up on sleep. Detroit took Sunday off and returned to the rink on Monday a tad fresher.

“Oh, it's been huge for them,” Babcock said of having a day off. “The guys playing the huge minutes and carrying the wear and tear just nice to not think about hockey for one day.  Because you've got to get ready now.  You've got to get thinking.  It's just a day to breathe.”

Forward Pavel Datsyuk has now had a couple days for treatment and rest, which can only quicken his recovery and boost his play. Datsyuk will remain on Henrik Zetterberg’s wing – at least to kick off Game 6. If Babcock needs to and thinks Datsyuk is up for it, he may move Datsyuk down to center the second line.

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