Red Wings' veterans best Ducks in overtime
Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader celebrates his team's overtime game-winning goal against the Ducks during Game 6 of their NHL Western Conference quarterfinal at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, May 10, 2013. (REBECCA COOK/Reuters)
The Anaheim Ducks are wondering what they have to do to kill off the Detroit Red Wings.
Whatever it is, they haven't figured it out yet and now it's come down to a one-game showdown for the Western Conference quarterfinal series.
The Wings and Ducks went to overtime Friday for the fourth time in this series and for the third time the Wings came out the winners. It's the first time in Wings history they have played four overtime games in a series.
This time it was the veterans who came through in a big way. Henrik Zetterberg's second goal of the game 1:04 into overtime gave the Wings a 4-3 win, tying the series at 3-3.
"We've always said the shorter we can make this series the more advantage to us," said Wings coach Mike Babcock. "You can't get any shorter than one game."
Game 6 started like a normal hockey game but reserved all the craziness for the final period.
The Red Wings took a 3-1 lead in that period and looked ready to pack their bags one more time for Anaheim. But before you could say 'don't count your chickens,' someone counted the chickens. The Ducks got goals by Bobby Ryan and Emerson Etem 51 seconds apart with less than four minutes to go to force the extra session.
Zetterberg's winner was a carbon copy of his first goal. Instead of doing what he usually does with Pavel Datsyuk which is tick-tac-toe passing, he put his head down midway between the top of the faceoff circle and the blueline and blasted away. Both found their way through screens.
"Those two were kind of ugly ones, but that's what you need in the playoffs," Zetterberg said. "We started to feel the frustration when the puck doesn't go in, but at the same time we've been doing a lot of good things on our line. We just keep at it, keep shooting the pucks, maybe over shot it a little bit more and the pucks will go in eventually."
Zetterberg would know frustration. Those were his first two goals of the playoff series.
Also scoring for the Wings was Datsyuk, with only his second. Dan Cleary had the other goal for the Wings.
Kyle Palmieri had the Ducks other goal.
When the Wings veterans score the Wings win. When they don't it's a much different story.
"(Zetterberg and Datsyuk) are leaders. You talk about leaders on the team, leaders like (Steve) Yzerman and (Nick) Lidstrom but those guys had way more help," Babcock said.
This was a strange game of ups and downs. There were times when neither team looked like it was capable of winning.
Hiller was upset about the way his team played.
"I don't know why we need to be two goals down to finally start playing, finally to get pressure on the net, finally going in harder and play with desperation that we lacked a little big before that," he said.
Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau agreed. He said that after scoring the two goals at the end of the game, his club should have come out and played hard in overtime rather than tentatively.
"I told the guys after the first period that we were playing not to lose instead of playing to win and you can't play like that," Boudreau said. "You've got to play like you've always played and just be responsible and we didn't do that.
There were only three penalties in the game, all of them to Anaheim.
"I don't really want to say anything about that," said Ryan. "They played a perfect game."
The Wings certainly played desperate hockey, especially the veterans who carried this team.
"It just seems when our backs are against the wall, that's when we play our best," said goaltender Jimmy Howard, who faced 37 shots and made several eye-popping saves. "The urgency was there right from the drop of the puck. There can't be any let up. We've got to have this right into Sunday night."
That's Game 7 in Anaheim Sunday at 10 p.m. EDT.
"Home ice in Game 7 doesn't mean very much," said Wings defenceman Niklas Kronwall. "We found a way to win and that's all that matters. Now it's down to one game."