Phoenix hopes home ice is an advantage

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It hasn't meant much so far in the first series to reach a Game 7

The Phoenix Coyotes were going home after Game 6 one way or the other and they're more than delighted to have dragged the Detroit Red Wings along with them.

In a series where there's been little to choose between the clubs, tonight's Game 7 will do that for them.

Detroit Red Wings' captain Nicklas Lidstrom has appeared in more than 240 NHL playoff contest, but tonight's matchup in Phoenix against the Coyotes will be his first-ever Game 7 on the road. - Associated Press file photo

The Phoenix Coyotes were going home after Game 6 one way or the other and they're more than delighted to have dragged the Detroit Red Wings along with them.

In a series where there's been little to choose between the clubs, tonight's Game 7 will do that for them.

"It's the fourth and fifth-place teams, and they (Phoenix) finished third in points the west," said Wings coach Mike Babcock.

"They're a good team, but we think we're a better team. The better team advances, pure and simple."

This will be the eighth Game 7 the Wings have played in since Nicklas Lidstrom entered the NHL in the 1991-92 season. The Wings have won four of the previous winner-takes-all contests.

The most recent of course is Detroit's loss in the Stanley Cup final to Pittsburgh.

But because they have been frequently the top seed in playoff series and/or the fact that many of their matchups haven't gone the distance, tonight's game will be a rarity for the Wings like Lidstrom, who like most of his teammates has never played in a Game 7 on the road.

It's also unfamiliar ground for the Coyotes. A series victory would be their first in six attempts since moving from Winnipeg to Arizona for the 1996-97 season and the franchise's first since 1987.

The Detroit Red Wings, meanwhile, are trying to stay alive for a third straight trip to the Stanley Cup finals and avoid a second straight series loss after holding a 3-2 lead. They failed to close out Pittsburgh in last season's finals and that 2-1 defeat is still on the minds of the Red Wings.

"I'm more or less still mad about last year's Game 7," said backup goalie Chris Osgood, last season's starter. "None of that even has a bearing on this game in Phoenix."

The Coyotes are hosting the first Game 7 of these NHL playoffs, but home ice hasn't meant much in this series. The road team is 4-2 in this series and home ice hasn't been much use in the other series either. Heading into Monday's action, every series that has been decided was clinched on the road.

"I said it before the series, home-ice advantage is only good if it comes down to a Game 7," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said.

"We worked hard to get home-ice advantage. If you're going to play a Game 7, I'd rather play it in front of our home fans.

"Our building will be crazy, which will be fun for everybody.

"It's a game you'll remember."

Captain Shane Doan is the only remaining member of the last Phoenix team to reach a Game 7 - 1999 against St. Louis - and it remains to be seen if he will participate in this one.

Doan hasn't played since his right shoulder took the brunt of his collision with the endboards early in the second period of Game 3.

He went through his first full practice Monday since suffering the upper-body injury, but he remains a game-time decision.

"I tested it. It feels pretty good. We'll see," he said.

Despite not playing, Doan has still found a way to be a presence.

"Doaner's been really good around the dressing room while he's not in," Derek Morris said. "He's made guys stay positive. He had a really emotional speech, a good speech for us before the game (Sunday). Guys took it to heart."

Organizations: Detroit Red Wings, NHL, Phoenix Coyotes

Geographic location: Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Winnipeg Arizona St. Louis

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