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Published: Friday, 4/20/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Red Wings expect a Game 6

Detroit stays optimistic despite facing elimination

BY RACHEL LENZI
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

DETROIT -- Nicklas Lidstrom doesn't publicly harbor many doubts. Neither does Jimmy Howard.

Neither does Joe Louis Arena. Less than two hours after the Detroit Red Wings fell to a 3-1 hole to the Nashville Predators in a best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinal series, the marquee outside the building advertised tickets as being on sale for Game 6.

Provided that there is a Game 6.

First, the Red Wings have to win Friday night's Game 5, which begins at 8 in Nashville's Bridgestone Arema.

In facing potential elimination the Detroit contingent has hope, even considering what the Red Wings face.

If the Predators win Friday, they will close the series and eliminate Detroit from the playoffs. It would be the first time the Red Wings have been dispatched from the playoffs before the second round since 2006, when Edmonton eliminated Detroit in a Western Conference quarterfinal, and it would be only the fourth time in the last 20 years the Red Wings will have had a first-round exit.

Yet in front of the cameras and microphones, the Red Wings still aren't wavering.

"We're down, so we know we have to keep our mind up for the next game," said the Wings' captain Lidstrom after Tuesday's 3-1 loss in Game 4. "You win that and you focus on the next one. That will be our mindset here. Go to Nashville and get ready for that one game."

In spite of the fact that they've faced a hot goaltender in Nashville's Pekka Rinne, who has averaged 32.5 saves per game in the first four games of the series, and in spite of the fact that they lost two games on home ice in Detroit, the Red Wings still believe they've got a chance to take a game in Nashville and bring the series back to Detroit on Sunday.

"We have to go to Nashville and just win one, and try to win another one when we get back here," said Howard, the Wings' goalie. "We've got to start with Friday and not get ahead of ourselves. Just one.

"We've been in this situation before and we know what we're capable of."

A year ago, the Red Wings faced a 3-0 deficit in a Western Conference semifinal series against San Jose and rallied to tie the series.

"We have to keep going, do the things we do," Detroit left wing Henrik Zetterberg said. "We won three in a row last year against the Sharks, so we're just going to go down there [to Nashville] and play a good road game and get it back here for Game 6."

What Zetterberg neglected to mention was that the Sharks beat the Red Wings in seven games in a Western Conference semifinal last spring.

Still, last year there was a Game 6.

"We have to keep crashing," Zetterberg said.

"Be resilient. Have that can-do attitude and the work ethic that we know everyone has in here."

Contact Rachel Lenzi at: rlenzi@theblade.com, 419-724-6510 or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.



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