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The previous two Stanley Cup champions are meeting in the playoffs for the third time since the NHL expanded four decades ago.
Perhaps fittingly, a Game 7 is necessary.
The Anaheim Ducks and Detroit Red Wings have pushed their Western Conference Semifinal series to the limit just as Edmonton and Calgary did in 1991 and Montreal and Boston did in 1971 in the last two matchups of Cup winners.
“This is what you play for,” said Corey Perry, who scored the game-winning goal in Game 6 for the Ducks.. “This is about as exciting a time as you can get.”
|2009 Conference Semifinals|
While the game will be played on Detroit's home ice at Joe Louis Arena, the Ducks will not be intimidated. Anaheim has proven this postseason they can win anywhere and their confidence has grown.
"Everyone is believing we can beat this team," said Ryan Getzlaf, who leads the Ducks with 18 points in the playoffs.
Anaheim won Game 2 at Joe Louis Arena in triple overtime and opened the playoffs with two road wins against the top-seeded San Jose Sharks.
"Nobody expected us to beat San Jose," Ducks forward Todd Marchant said. "We're trying to ride the unexpected. Hopefully, we can pull another one off."
Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle hopes his team turns the tide in shots on goal, but said that statistic isn't foolproof.
"They've gotten more shots than we have. So did San Jose," Carlyle said. "But where is San Jose?"
The Ducks avoided elimination with a 2-1 win Tuesday night, which ended with a large scuffle between the teams that saw eight penalties totaling 36 minutes dished out by the referees.
With so much at stake, Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg doesn't expect gloves to drop again.
The winner will advance to play the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference finals.
The loser will go home.
In franchise history, the Ducks have played in three Game 7s (holding a 2-1 record in those contests) entering Thursday night. Anaheim will be looking to duplicate the feat they performed the last time they were in a Game 7. Down 3 games to 2 to Calgary in the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2006 playoffs, the Ducks won at home in Game 6 before prevailing for a 3-0 win on the road in Game 7 to take the series.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.