History favoured the Anaheim Ducks heading into Game 6 on home ice Tuesday night. It still does.
Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry had one goal and one assist apiece as the Ducks nipped the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 in Game 6 of their Western Conference semifinal at the Honda Center.
"We knew we wanted it tonight, we have a great team in here," Perry said. "We dug down and you can just feel it before the game, everyone was ready to play."
Detroit took the previous two meetings, outscoring the Ducks 10-4 and outshooting them 78-45, yet Anaheim improved to 6-0 as the host team in a sixth game of a playoff series.
"The edge in desperation, it doesn't have to be huge," Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock said. "Just a little bit.
"You win more puck battles and more puck races and you deflect more people out of the slot. I didn't think we had a real push until the third period and we were trailing 2-0."
The best-of-seven is tied 3-3 with Game 7 at Detroit on Thursday night.
The winner will take on the Chicago Blackhawks in the conference final.
Getzlaf has impressed in the series, figuring in 10 of Anaheim's 14 goals, and goaltender Jonas Hiller kicked out 38 of 39 shots for the eighth-seeded Ducks.
"Not a lot had to be said," Getzlaf said. "We have enough guys in here who have been there before.
"It was unacceptable the way we played last game. We were excited about tonight."
"Everybody stepped up and played hard and we deserved to win and go on to Game 7," claimed Hiller, who preserved the margin of victory with a blocker save on sniper Marian Hossa as time expired.
"It was a close game and I think we competed," Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg said. "Unfortunately, we couldn't get more than one puck behind him."
No sooner had Hiller blocked Hossa's final shot than a skirmish broke out, resulting in fisticuffs between Ducks captain Scott Niedermayer and Pavel Datsyuk.
"Someone had a hold of me — I didn't even know who it was at first — and there was a push and another push," Niedermayer said. "It wasn't pretty, at least it isn't when I do it."
Chris Osgood made 26 saves and Johan Franzen scored the only goal for the second-ranked Red Wings, who haven't played a Game 7 since pounding Patrick Roy and the Colorado Avalanche 7-0 in the 2002 conference final — the most lopsided seventh game in NHL history.
Detroit's previous eight series clinchers had been accomplished on the road, but Anaheim refused to fold.
"I think they were more desperate tonight than we were," Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "They came out stronger.
"There were too many turnovers that created more time in our zone than we wanted to."
'He is the best player in the league'
Anaheim held a slight territorial advantage in a scorless first period, and took a 1-0 lead on Getzlaf's power-play goal 2:21 into the second.
Osgood made the initial save when Scott Niedermayer's point shot was tipped by Perry, but Getzlaf whacked in the rebound for his fourth goal of the playoffs.
"In my mind, he is the best player in the league," Ducks forward Teemu Selanne said of Getzlaf. "If there is a better all-around player, show him to me.
"One on one, he is the best in the league. Offensively, defensively, all-around, the guy is a monster."
Perry put the Ducks up 2-0 with 2:25 left in the period, deflecting Getzlaf's fluttering 50-footer from the point for his seventh.
The line of Getzlaf, Perry and rookie Bobby Ryan has accounted for 15 of Anaheim's 32 goals this post-season.
"You have to go to them," Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said. "They have to be the guys that are going to take you to the next level."
Detroit outshot Anaheim 18-6 in the third period, but the Red Wings failed to solve Hiller until Franzen scored a power-play goal on a three-way passing play involving Zetterberg and Jiri Hudler.
Zetterberg initiated the tic-tac-toe play by circling high in the offensive zone and sending a long pass to Hudler at the hash marks, who whisked the puck to Franzen for an uncontested tap-in at the right post.
It was Franzen's eighth goal this post-season, and 19th in his last 21 playoff games.