Red Wings Notebook: Game 6 hinges on seizing the opportunity


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Detroit coach Mike Babcock talked yesterday about "focus and preparation" and "being ready on time" for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final against the Penguins tonight at Mellon Arena.

If that sounds trite, Babcock offered a testimonial -- the Red Wings' losses in Games 3 and 4 in the Penguins' building that left them in a series tie.

"We came in here last week ... with an opportunity and failed to do anything with that opportunity. Went home with two losses," he said. "So here's another opportunity for us. Hopefully, we've learned. We haven't handled the start of the game very good in here. And in the second game in here, we didn't handle the end of the game very good. "

Each of those games ended 4-2.

This time, Detroit, which leads the series, 3-2, can clinch the championship if it can do what neither team has done in this round -- win on the road.

"It's a hard building to play in, in Pittsburgh," winger Dan Cleary said.

"It's loud, the fans are really excited, and the players are feeding off that. They played a good game, Game 3, even better in Game 4.

"For us, we have to play a good road game, patient, protect the puck very well. Make sure we don't give them quality opportunities."

A matter of will

Cleary pointed out that the Penguins will have something to say about Detroit's chances of clinching the Cup.

"When you close out a team, it's not easy," he said. "You're taking away somebody's dreams that they live for, and it's not an easy thing to do.

"But it's all will and determination and how badly you want it. You've just got to outwill the other player."

Repeat of Game 6?

The Red Wings are hoping Game 6 is a repeat of last year, when they clinched the Cup by winning at Mellon Arena.

Although the series stands the same as a year ago, the circumstances are a little different. In 2008, with champagne and championship T-shirts being wheeled toward the Detroit locker room, Penguins forward Max Talbot scored in the final minute of regulation to tie Game 5 at Detroit, then winger Petr Sykora's goal won it for the Penguins, 4-3, in triple overtime to force Game 6.

This year, the Red Wings are coming off a 5-0 shellacking of the Penguins in Game 5.

"Last year was disappointing beyond belief when we lost Game 5," Babcock said. "I mean, we had Game 5 won and we turned it over two times. I'm sure [Henrik Zetterberg] remembers it at the red line. I'm sure [Johan Franzen] remembers it inside our zone.

"Those are things that, the way it turned out in the end, it's not a big deal. Can you imagine if you didn't win the Cup and you did that? You're 32 seconds away from winning. I can remember thinking that for a second.

"But it's like anything -- you got up the next day and you refocused. I think that's what happens to teams."

Zetterberg doesn't believe in substantial carryover from one game to the next.

"I think it was a little different feeling after Game 5 than last year," he said. "But still, we want to come in here and play a good game. We know we have to play very well, otherwise we will not get our victory."

Tip-ins

Cleary, who has an undisclosed injury, skipped practice. He missed the morning skate Saturday but still played that night and likely will be available tonight. ... After a team day off Sunday, forward Pavel Datsyuk reported no problems after practicing yesterday. "It's good," he said of a foot injury that kept him out of seven games before he returned in Game 5. "We have a couple of days, a little more treatment." ... Babcock said he anticipated no lineup changes.


Shelly Anderson can be reached at shanderson@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1721.


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