NHL Playoffs 2013: Detroit Red Wings vs. Anaheim Ducks Game 7 Preview

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NHL Playoffs 2013: Detroit Red Wings vs. Anaheim Ducks Game 7 Preview
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Puck drop for Game 7 between the Detroit Red Wings and Anaheim Ducks is set for Sunday at 10 p.m. ET from the Honda Center. It’s the first series of the 2013 NHL playoffs to go to a seventh and deciding game.

The 2007 and 2008 Stanley Cup champions have played a highly entertaining series, which has featured plenty of offense from both sides.

Here’s a look at how the first six games played out.

Game 1: Red Wings 1 at Ducks 3

Game 2: Red Wings 5 at Ducks 4 (OT)

Game 3: Ducks 4 at Red Wings 0

Game 4: Ducks 2 at Red Wings 3 (OT)

Game 5: Red Wings 2 at Ducks 3 (OT)

Game 6: Ducks 3 at Red Wings 4 (OT)    

This is the second straight series between these two teams to go to Game 7. The Red Wings won 4-3 at home in the seventh game of their 2009 Western Conference semifinals series. And, should Sunday's game be tied at the end of regulation, this would become just the third series in NHL history to feature five overtime games. 

Who will win Game 7?

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Howard and Hiller

Neither goaltender has stood out through six games.

Jonas Hiller holds a slight edge in the series with a .919 save percentage, 2.37 GAA and one shutout, compared to Jimmy Howard’s .906 save percentage and 2.86 GAA.

Howard struggled in Game 2, giving up a couple bad goals as the Wings blew a three-goal lead before winning in overtime. He had some trouble in Game 3 as well, but has been much better of late.

Hiller has been more consistent, but he hasn’t been able to bail the Ducks out when they needed it most, in overtime. All three Detroit wins have come in the extra frame.

 

Zetterberg and Getzlaf

The two captains continue to deliver in the playoffs just as they did throughout the shortened season and will likely play a crucial role in Game 7.

Henrik Zetterberg leads the Red Wings with seven points (two goals and five assists) while Ryan Getzlaf is tied with Kyle Palmieri atop the Ducks scoring list. Both players have three goals and two assists for five points.

Zetterberg continues to play a solid game at both ends of the rink, generating turnovers and creating chances on offense. His biggest moment came in Game 6, when he scored the overtime winner.

Getzlaf has done much of the same, but has struggled in the face-off circle, winning just 30 percent of his draws. He made a significant impact in Game 3, scoring a short-handed goal which gave the Ducks a 2-0 lead and all the momentum.

Look for both players to play well over 20 minutes in Game 7.

Harry How/Getty Images

 

Team Performances

The key for Detroit will be limiting defensive zone mistakes and turnovers. Howard can only take so much of the blame when the players in front of him miss opportunities to clear the puck or make poor plays around the net.

Anaheim needs an offensive surge from its big-name players. Corey Perry has yet to score and has just two assists, while Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne have combined for just two goals. It’s hard to imagine Palmieri and Bonino continuing to produce at their current pace, meaning it's time for others to step up.

As for special teams, the Red Wings and Ducks have performed similarly to this point. The Red Wings' power play is operating at 26.1 percent and the Ducks at 28.6. Of course, that means their penalty kills have struggled. The Red Wings sit 14th in the playoffs (71.4 percent), while the Ducks are 13th (73.9 percent).

Both teams have failed to play well for a full 60 minutes in this series. That, or a remarkable goaltending performance could very well be the difference come Sunday evening. Otherwise, expect a game consistent with the first six.

High scoring and entertaining, but with a few dumb mistakes by both teams. 

 

Prediction: Red Wings 4, Ducks 3 (OT) 

 

Stats courtesy of NHL.com

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