DETROIT - In the Detroit Red Wings' dressing room, Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Osgood, and Kirk Maltby tried to explain to reporters how Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals is really like any other game.
"It's hard to really mentally sell it to yourself that it's just another game, but it is," Maltby said yesterday.
Lidstrom, Maltby, Tomas Holmstrom, and Kris Draper are going for their fifth title in 12 seasons tonight in Game 7 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Osgood is on the verge of a fourth ring, third as the Red Wings' starting goalie.
Detroit had a shot for its second straight Cup on Tuesday night in Game 6, but fell, 2-1, in Pittsburgh. The Red Wings have one more chance to secure it, and they will try at home, where they are 11-1 in the playoffs - 3-0 in this series.
"It's no different," said Osgood, 15-7 with a 2.00 goals-against average in the playoffs. "Game 7 is just another game to win the Cup."
The home team won each of the first six games. The Penguins went 1-2 at Joe Louis Arena in last year's finals and have been outscored by 11-2 in three losses in this series.
Given the chance to practice in Detroit yesterday, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma declined. The Penguins skated one last time in Pittsburgh before flying to Detroit.
"I thought staying home would give us a better chance to be more focused and more prepared in our routine," he said.
Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby has been bottled up by forward Henrik Zetterberg, who hits the ice pretty much every time Crosby does, and hasn't scored a goal in six Finals games in Detroit.
Crosby and teammate Evgeni Malkin, who led the NHL with 113 points in the regular season, went pointless in the Game 6 win. That was Pittsburgh's first postseason victory since the dynamic duo joined the team in which neither star got on the score sheet.
The Penguins can't expect to dethrone the Red Wings in Detroit if Crosby and Malkin are blanked again.
"I'd always like to score more," said Crosby, who has a goal and two assists in the series. "I look back, and on some of the chances I've had just didn't really get a whole lot of luck. Now is not the time to think about what could have been. The only way I'm looking at here is it's a great opportunity, and I've got to try to go out there and play my best game in the playoffs.