Red Wings look to overcome Penguins' whiteout

Detroit Red Wings' Pavel Datsyuk of Russia shoots during practice in Detroit, Monday, June 8, 2009. Detroit, who leads the series 3-2, will play Game 6 of the NHL Stanley Cup finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins Tuesday. <br><I>AP Photo

PITTSBURGH - How do you paint a town red when everyone in the enemy rink is covered completely in white?

Just ask the Detroit Red Wings, who have their sights set on winning their second straight Stanley Cup championship in the heart of steel country.

It could easily be called steal country this year. If Detroit is going to capture the Cup for the 12th time on Tuesday night, they will have to do it by escaping with the only road victory in these finals. Otherwise, this home-dominated series will return to the Motor City for a deciding Game 7 on Friday.

The Red Wings lead 3-2. One win over the Penguins is all that separates them from earning their fifth title in 12 seasons and second straight in Pittsburgh, where the crowd's whiteout will be in full effect.

"I can't even look to that right now," four-time champion Kris Draper said Sunday. "When you only think that you need one more win, certainly the imagination is going to wander. Right now you just have to keep everything in check. We haven't accomplished anything."

The Red Wings might have gotten caught looking ahead last year when they returned home for Game 5 with a 3-1 series edge, but lost in triple overtime. Instead of letting the Penguins get too much momentum and entertain thoughts of a big comeback, Detroit finished off Pittsburgh in Game 6.

The situation remains the same, only this time the Red Wings come in riding a 5-0 victory in Game 5 at home. It is the first time since 2003 that the home team won the first five games of the finals. That series went the distance with the road team never breaking through.

"We struggled a bit in Pittsburgh with the way they respond in their home building," Draper said of Detroit's two road losses in the series. "We just kind of stayed within ourselves and made sure that we were ready to play (Saturday) night. But for us, it's the best thing that you can do at this time of the year to be in the Stanley Cup final.

"We know how important Game 6 is going to be. But with that, we're just trying to enjoy the Stanley Cup final. It doesn't matter if it's your first time or if you played in multiple Stanley Cups, this is the best thing a hockey player can go through."

Penguins forward Bill Guerin knows all about that, even though he is back in the finals for the first time since he won his lone championship with the New Jersey Devils in 1995.

At 38, Guerin is nearing the end of his career. He came to Pittsburgh from the last-place New York Islanders at the trade deadline and is serving as a rental player. Guerin can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, and what transpires over the next few days could go a long way toward determining if he gets a new deal with the Penguins or somewhere else.

He has complemented captain Sidney Crosby on Pittsburgh's top line and benefited from his young teammate's fine playmaking skills by contributing seven goals and eight assists in the Penguins' 22 playoff games.

"You never know what the future holds for opportunities and chances to win the Cup," Guerin said. "I know where I'm at in my career. I know they're going to have to kick me out of this league because I want to keep playing as long as I can. But the opportunity is now.

"The opportunity is now for a 38-year-old, and it's now for a 22-year-old, and for a 28-year-old. The opportunity is now, and you have to take it when you've got the opportunity because, you know, it could be 14 years before you get your next one."

Since the finals went to a best-of-seven format in 1939, the home team won every game three times. Red Wings coach Mike Babcock was on the losing end of the last one when Anaheim dropped Game 7 in New Jersey.

"As much as everyone wants to get caught up in momentum and carry-over and all that stuff. I've said many times I'm not a big believer in that," Babcock said. "I'm a big believer in being prepared, getting focused and executing. If you do all those things, you have a chance to get lucky."


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