DETROIT – Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall summed up the meaning behind a Game 7 in the playoffs perfectly.
“Most playoff games are special, but Game 7, one of the teams goes home,” Kronwall said. “It’s as simple as that. One team wins and moves on, the other teams loses and goes home. Hopefully, the experience we’ve had through these adversities can help us out,” he said.
The Wings forced a Game 7 in their best-of-seven first round series with the Anaheim Ducks after a 4-3 win in overtime on Friday night at Joe Louis Arena.
“You don’t have many chances to play a Game 7 throughout the course of your career,” forward Henrik Zetterberg said. “We just have to embrace it, have fun, enjoy it. It’s a special atmosphere. It’s fun to play those games.”
Game 7 is Sunday at 10 p.m. in Anaheim.
“It’s do or die,” Zetterberg said. “It’s the last game of the series. We’ve played them six times, both teams know each other inside and out. It’s tight. There are a lot of emotions and you don’t do it often that’s why it’s so special.”
Detroit is 2-2 in its last four Game 7 appearances.
The last time the Wings took part in one was in 2011, falling to San Jose on the road, 3-2.
Many of the Wings in the locker room have experienced the pressure of a Game 7 before.
“It’s a lot of fun,” forward Justin Abdelkader said. “Games 7s, anything can happen. It’s been such a tightly contested series. It’s going to be a lot of fun. I think it’s great for hockey. I’m glad I’ve been able to be a apart of the series because it’s one of the better ones in recent memory. It’s two great teams going at it. There’s not much room out there and teams aren’t giving up too much. I’m just looking forward to another game.”
For defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo, Sunday will be his first appearance in a Game 7.
“That’s all you talk about growing up playing hockey is being in that moment of a seventh game,” Colaiacovo said. “This is my first shot at a seventh game. We feel pretty good about the guys that we have in here that have been there and done that before. We’re going to get great leadership and at the end of the day, we’ll put on our work clothes and go to work.”
Most of the team also agreed that home-ice advantage really doesn’t mean a thing when it comes to playing in a Game 7.
“I think Game 7 you can throw it out the window,” Abdelkader said. “Really, home ice in this series hasn’t meant too much. Our fans were great (in Game 6). They lifted us and that was big. For us, we’re playing on the road but there’s still some Red Wings fans out in Anaheim. That’s always good to see. I kind of noticed the last game when I was sitting out and saw all the red jerseys. We’ll have somewhat of a home presence but it’s still going to be road game. We just have to go out and get the job done.”
One of Detroit’s two wins in the series came in Anaheim. The Wings also won both regular season games there.
“It’s always an extra bonus when you’re playing at home, the energy of the crowd to feed off of,” Colaiacovo said. “But obviously they’re going to try to use that against us and we’ve got to weather the storm in the first 10 minutes and play good, simple hockey, try to make them play out of their comfort zone. Right now we’re going to enjoy this moment.”