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DETROIT (AP) - The Detroit Red Wings have the Anaheim Ducks right where they want them. Maybe.
Detroit finds itself in a series tied after four games for the third time this postseason, entering Game 5 of the Western Conference finals on Sunday at Joe Louis Arena.
The Red Wings beat San Jose and Calgary by a combined score of 9-2 in their previous Game 5s and went on to eliminate both teams in the following game.
"It's huge momentum if you can get Game 5," Detroit forward Johan Franzen said. "It really hurts the other team."
Ducks coach Randy Carlyle wasn't putting much stock in Detroit's past success.
"We're not into historic statistics," he said. "We're into playing a complete hockey game. We've done it in this building."
Anaheim eliminated both Vancouver and Minnesota in five games earlier in the postseason. A win Sunday would still leave the Ducks a win away from the Stanley Cup finals.
Game 6 is Tuesday night in Anaheim. If necessary, Game 7 will be Thursday night in Detroit.
Anaheim should get a boost Sunday with the return of star defenseman Chris Pronger, who leads the team with 12 postseason points. Pronger was suspended for the previous game, which the Ducks won, after hitting Tomas Holmstrom's head into the glass in Game 3.
"You've seen him do that before, so I'm not surprised he'd do it again." Holmstrom said. "I'm going to do my job the same way, go in front of the net. He's probably going to give me a beating again and I'm going to keep coming back."
Detroit goaltender Dominik Hasek was still upset about Pronger's hit leading to 13 stitches over two cuts on Holmstrom's forehead.
"Pronger knew exactly what he was doing, putting his glove on Tomas' head to the glass," Hasek said. "He knows what he's done, but we cannot pay too much attention. We know he's back in the lineup. They'll be even better team with him."
With so much at stake, Pronger said it's only natural for relations to get testy.
"Anytime you're at this late a stage in the playoffs, teams play over and over again, there's always going to be rivalries," he said. "There's always going to be bad blood. There's always going to be emotions playing a part in a series."
Carlyle played Ric Jackman in Pronger's spot. His first shot in his NHL playoff debut gave the Ducks a one-goal lead in their 5-3 series-evening win Thursday night.
Carlyle said Jackman isn't necessarily out because Pronger is in.
"We have the flexibility of taking a defenseman out and putting Jackman in," he said. "We've got some ideas on what we'd like to do, but I think it's a little premature to make any statement of who is going to be in or who is going to be out at this time.
"Those are good, tough decisions when a player comes in and makes a contribution."
The Red Wings, meanwhile, are starting to see dividends from their trade-deadline acquisition of Todd Bertuzzi.
He scored twice and had an assist in the previous two games after going six postseason games without a point.
Detroit acquired the bruising forward from Florida in February for a prospect and up to two conditional draft picks. Bertuzzi had lower back surgery in November. After he recuperated enough to play late in the regular season, he missed the Red Wings' first two playoff games with a concussion and neck injury.
"Our expectations of him all along, I think, have been very reasonable," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "I don't think we've said, 'Hey, you're going to be off all this time and have the back (trouble) you've had and then suddenly be back.' But we feel the longer we play, the better opportunity he has to help us."
Bertuzzi's recent production has made it tougher on the Ducks because they can't focus solely on top-line forwards Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Holmstrom.
"It obviously poses a lot more threat, and we've got to do a better job of shutting down the other lines as well," Pronger said.
|May 11 '07||ANA 1 at DET 2|
|May 13 '07||ANA 4 at DET 3 - OT|
|May 15 '07||DET 5 at ANA 0|
|May 17 '07||DET 3 at ANA 5|
|May 20 '07||ANA 2 at DET 1 - OT|
|May 22 '07||DET 3 at ANA 4|
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