(Sports Network) - The first Game 7 of the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs is on tap Sunday, as the second-seeded Anaheim Ducks host the Detroit Red Wings in the decisive battle of this Western Conference quarterfinal series.
This will be the 23rd Game 7 in Detroit postseason history. The Red Wings are 13-9 in those games, but have lost two of their last three Game 7s, including a setback in the deciding contest of the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals against Pittsburgh.
Anaheim, meanwhile, is playing in its fifth Game 7 and first since losing to Detroit in the 2009 Western Conference semifinals. The Ducks are 2-2 all-time in Game 7s.
The Ducks and Red Wings have alternated wins and losses since Anaheim claimed the opener and four of the six games have been decided in overtime. Detroit won the first two OT decisions in Games 2 and 4, but Anaheim used a Nick Bonino goal early in the extra session to take Game 5.
It was Detroit's turn again to win on Friday, however, as Henrik Zetterberg scored 64 seconds into OT to lift the Red Wings to a 4-3 victory. The home win at Joe Louis Arena knotted the series at 3-3.
However, a late collapse in regulation by the Red Wings nearly cost them the chance to win this series.
Detroit had blown a two-goal lead late in regulation, but forced Game 7 when a left circle faceoff win saw the puck eventually get to Zetterberg, who blasted a big shot from the top of the left circle that went through a Justin Abdelkader screen and sailed past Jonas Hiller.
"We started to feel the frustration when the puck doesn't go in, but at the same time we've been doing a lot of good things on our line," said Zetterberg. "We just keep at it, keep shooting the pucks, and the pucks will go in eventually. Today, I don't think they were two of my hardest shots, but they found a way to go in."
Zetterberg posted two goals and an assist, Pavel Datsyuk had a goal and two assists and Daniel Cleary notched the other marker for the Red Wings, who got 34 saves from Jimmy Howard.
Emerson Etem, Kyle Palmieri and Bobby Ryan all scored for the Ducks, who saw Hiller give up all four goals on 29 shots.
The score was tied at 1-1 after 40 minutes before Detroit scored twice to open the third period and stake itself to a 3-1 lead. However, the Ducks would get back in the game thanks to some help from the Red Wings.
Anaheim's first goal of the third came off a bad turnover as Valtteri Filppula took the puck behind his own net and from the left side he sent it back the other way. The only person there, though, was Etem and he tucked the gift in to make it a 3-2 game with 3:28 to play.
It took less than a minute for the Ducks to tie the game as Francois Beauchemin sent the disc from the right boards over to the front where Corey Perry got a stick on it and Ryan slammed it home for his second of the playoffs.
"I told the guys after the first period that we're playing not to lose instead of playing to win and you can't play like that," said Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau. "We didn't do it the same way we came out in overtime, and I said we had to continue playing the way we did at the end of regulation. But maybe we'll learn from our mistakes, and we've still got one more to go."
The Ducks, who are 2-1 as the host in this series, compiled a solid 16-7-1 mark at the Honda Center during the regular season. The Red Wings were 11-9-4 as the road club in 2013.
This is the sixth playoff meeting between the Red Wings and Ducks, who met five times in the postseason from 1997-2009. Detroit has won three of the five series and beat Anaheim in seven games when the clubs last met in the 2009 conference semifinals.