DETROIT — The Detroit Red Wings skated to play in at least one more postseason game.
It could just be their next game on their playoff journey. It could be their last game.
Yet in the wake of a 4-3 overtime win against the Anaheim Ducks in a Western Conference quarterfinal Friday at Joe Louis Arena, the significance of a Game 7 certainly isn’t lost upon the Red Wings.
“You don’t have many chances to play a Game 7 through the course of your career,” said Henrik Zetterberg, who scored the game-winning goal 1:04 into overtime. “You’ve got to go embrace it, have fun, enjoy it. It’s a special atmosphere to play those games.”
The Red Wings and the Ducks will meet at 10 p.m. Sunday at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., in an elimination game.
The Ducks scored two goals in the final four minutes of regulation to send the two teams to overtime for the fourth time in the series. Zetterberg’s second goal of the game — a blast from the point a little more than a minute into overtime — won the game and forced Game 7.
“We’re looking forward to it,” Zetterberg said. “We’ve just got to go down, play like we have been and play our system, and we’ll have a good chance.
The Ducks will take that same state of mind into the series finale.
“It’s a game-seven mentality,” Ducks center Saku Koivu said. “It’s been a hard battle throughout the series, and we had some ups and downs, and we have to regroup, forget what happened [Friday], and get ready for the next game.”
Koivu, however, indirectly set up the Red Wings’ game-winning goal. Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau called a timeout after his team iced the puck, and said after the loss that his intent was to give Koivu a rest after playing the bulk of the first minute of overtime.
“Evidently, it didn’t work,” Boudreau said.
Pavel Datsyuk won the faceoff to the left of Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller and got the puck to Niklas Kronwall, who pushed the puck to Zetterberg at the left point. Zetterberg’s shot beat a screened Hiller.
Detroit’s approach to overtime was much like its approach to beginning of Friday’s Game 6.
“They came out like they were playing to win,” Ducks right wing Bobby Ryan said. “And we kind of sat back a little bit. It took us too long to get into it.”
With less than 90 seconds left in the first, Zetterberg dug the puck out of the corner and fed it to Datsyuk, who skated parallel to the goal line from the left circle and beat Hiller (25 saves) on a backhand from the slot to give the Red Wings a 1-0 lead at 18:48.
Midway through the second, a bounce went Anaheim’s way, when Kyle Palmieri’s shot from the right circle hit the post and caromed back out into play, then bounced off Detroit defenseman Brendan Smith. Smith swung his stick at the puck in an attempt to redirect it, to no avail, and the puck went behind Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard (34 saves) to tie the game at 1-1, a goal credited to Palmieri at 11:31.
Four minutes later, Zetterberg hit the post to Hiller’s right, but the Red Wings couldn’t get the same bounce the Ducks got in tying the game.
Palmieri, however, was called for high sticking on Smith at 5:39 of the third and 30 seconds into the penalty, Zetterberg’s shot from the left point beat Hiller through a screen to give the Red Wings a 2-1 lead.
Seconds after a tripping call to Andrew Cogliano expired at 11:12, Justin Abdelkader’s shot from outside the left circle was tipped in by Dan Cleary to beat a screened Hiller to give Detroit a 3-1 lead.
But the Ducks weren’t ready for an abbreviated return to the West Coast. Emerson Etem and Ryan scored in a span of less than a minute late in the third to force overtime.
“It always needs to be two goals down before we start playing, to start putting pressure on the net,” the Ducks’ Hiller said. "In overtime, everything happens quickly and anything can happen. If you don’t play your best the whole game, anything can happen.”
After the Ducks called the early overtime timeout, Zetterberg’s second goal of the game sent the Ducks — and the series — back to California for a decisive game.
“We’ve still got one more to go,” Boudreau said.
So do the Red Wings.
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