DETROIT – Three periods haven’t been enough for the Anaheim Ducks and Detroit Red Wings to decide three straight games and four overall in their first-round series.
No one will be surprised if Game 7 extends beyond regulation to tie an NHL record.
Henrik Zetterberg scored his second goal 1:04 into overtime, lifting the Red Wings to a 4-3 win over Anaheim in Game 6 on Friday night after they blew a two-goal lead late in the third period.
“The guys who have been there before all stepped up and said what had to be said,” said Zetterberg, a first-year captain. “We didn’t have to say that much.
“We just had to flush it and go out and play.”
Second-seeded Anaheim will host seventh-seeded Detroit on Sunday night in the elimination game.
Both teams have set franchise records for OT games in a series and if another one is necessary, a league mark will be matched.
The 1951 Stanley Cup finals in which Toronto beat Montreal and the 2012 Western Conference finals in which Chicago got past Phoenix are the only series in NHL history that had five games decided by OT, according to STATS.
Three of the OT games in the Detroit-Anaheim series have ended soon after the third intermission.
Zetterberg scored quickly Friday night, sending a slap shot from the top of the left circle past Jonas Hiller. Anaheim’s Nick Bonino won Game 5 just 1:54 into OT and Detroit’s Gustav Nyquist ended Game 2 just 1:21 into OT.
The Red Wings, in their 22nd straight post-season, have a chance to win their first series after being down 3-2 since the 2002 Western Conference finals, when they beat Colorado and went on to hoist the Stanley Cup.
With a team that is trying to rebuild while staying competitive, they’ve got a shot to do it again.
“We’re excited,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “We said the shorter we can make the series, advantage us, and you can’t make it any shorter than this.”
The Red Wings wasted a two-goal lead in the last 3 1/2 minutes of the third period of Game 6 by allowing Emerson Etem and Bobby Ryan to score 51 seconds apart to pull the Ducks into a 3-3 tie.
Zetterberg, who scored a go-ahead goal 6:19 into the third period on a power play, had a shot to win it with about a minute left. His shot hit the right post and slid across the crease.
His first goal snapped a career-long, seven-game post-season skid—dating to last year’s first-round exit against Nashville.
“If you’re from Detroit, I guess it’s just a matter of time,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said.
And if you’re rooting for the Ducks, you hope Corey Perry can snap his eight-game skid in the playoffs without a goal and that Ryan Getzlaf can bounce back from a pointless Game 6 with at least his fourth goal of the series in Game 7.
“We need more out of Corey and Getzy, we rely on them,” Boudreau said. “We’ve been a four-line team all year long. The (Kyle) Palmieris and Etems are the guys who are playing as good as anybody right now. If we can equalize Zetterberg and (Pavel) Datsyuk, I think we have a good chance.”
Detroit’s Jimmy Howard made 34 saves, all in regulation, and Hiller stopped 25 shots.
Datsyuk netted the Red Wings’ first goal of the pressure-packed game and Daniel Cleary created a two-goal cushion by scoring with 8:30 left in regulation.
Detroit looked like it got comfortable and it made some costly mistakes to spoil a chance to win in regulation.
Red Wings forward Valtteri Filppula carried the puck behind Howard and passed it back to where Etem was the only one in a position to get it—much to Howard’s surprise. The goalie wasn’t ready to slide over to make a save.
Then Ryan slammed a shot past Howard with 2:37 remaining to tie it.
“I don’t know why we need to be two goals down to finally start playing,” Hiller said. “Finally to get pressure on the net, finally going in harder and have that desperation that we lacked a little bit before that.”
Detroit was knocked out of the first round last year following five consecutive postseasons in which it advanced at least once, a run that included winning an NHL title in 2008 and falling a win short of repeating the next year.
The Ducks are trying to earn a spot in the second round for the first time since 2009, when they were eliminated by the Red Wings in Game 7 of the conference semifinals.
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