“Obviously the loss was a pretty good kick in the gut,” defenceman Scott Niedermayer said after Wednesday’s practice. “You need four games to win a series.
“There’s lots of opportunities left for both sides here. We have to realize that and go out and play our absolute best (Thursday) night.”
The NHL suspended Pronger for Thursday night’s Game 4 (9 p.m. ET). In a release, the league said the one-game suspension was for “a blow to the head” delivered to Detroit’s Tomas Holmstrom during the Red Wing’s 5-0 victory in Game 3 on Tuesday.
The Red Wings lead the best-of-seven series 2-1. A win Thursday would give the Wings a stranglehold on the series as they return home for Game 5.
Red Wing goaltender Dominik Hasek said the Pronger suspension will make the Ducks doubly motivated.
“I think they want to prove they can play without him,” said Hasek, who recorded his 14th career playoff shutout Tuesday. “They will be ready.
“They will be more ready than they were the last game.”
Pronger and Rob Niedermayer hammered Holmstrom into the boards from behind at 11:40 of the second period of Game 3.
Holmstrom, who had two goals and an assist in the victory, had to be helped off the ice. He needed 13 stitches to repair two cuts on his forehead but returned for the third period.
Pronger was not penalized on the play. Niedermayer was given a five-minute boarding penalty and a game misconduct.
The Ducks are expected to dress Ric Jackman, who has missed the entire playoffs with back spasms.
Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said Pronger is an important part of the team, but the Ducks still managed to play well when the Norris Trophy-winning defenceman missed 16 games with injury during the regular season.
“We had stretches through the season where he wasn’t on our blue-line,” said Carlyle. “We’ll move other people in, make some adjustments with our personnel.
“Other people will have to share those minutes.”
Ducks GM Brian Burke called the sanction “a poor decision” but said the team will respect the ruling.
“Now our challenge is to find a way to win without Chris Pronger,” he said.
One of the players the Ducks will want more production from is Teemu Selanne. The speedy Finn has been held pointless in the three games against Detroit.
“I don’t know if I should keep smiling or crying,” said Selanne. “I think smiling is better.
“They are being very aggressive when you get the puck. There are always a couple of guys right away. Nothing is going to be easy. We will have to fight for every inch.”
Another problem for the Ducks is special teams. Anaheim is 0-16 on the power play against the Wings. The Ducks have also allowed five goals on 20 Detroit power plays and have given up a short-handed goal.
Discipline is another issue. The Ducks are averaging 20 minutes of penalties a game, the most of any of the remaining teams in the playoffs. Anaheim was short-handed for 33 minutes in Tuesday’s loss.
All season Ducks coach Randy Carlyle has talked about a 10-minute rule after games. He gives the players that long to celebrate a victory or fret over a loss.
Carlyle said the Ducks must concentrate on fixing the problems from Tuesday, not dwelling on the mistakes.
“The only thing we can do is change the way we approach the things we have to do to be effective,” he said.
Anaheim most do a better job of carrying the puck through the neutral zone, reduce turnovers and forecheck better,” Carlyle said.
He also praised the talent on the Red Wings.
“They didn’t get here by smoke and mirrors,” he said. “They schooled us last night.”
Todd Bertuzzi the Red Wings can’t relax.
“They’re a team that is gong to be desperate,” he said. “They are going to be a lot hungrier than they were. It’s going to be up to us to take their will away early.”
Detroit’s Kris Draper said the lopsided win will be weighing on the Ducks’ minds when the puck is dropped in Game 4.
“They will be ready to go,” he said. “That’s a team that has a lot of pride. They are going to respond.”