After alternating wins in each of the first four games of the Western Conference quarterfinals, the Anaheim Ducks and Detroit Red Wings will fight for an edge in Wednesday's pivotal Game 5 matchup at Honda Center.
The second-seeded Ducks won Game 1 at home and Game 3 on the road, while the Red Wings claimed the even-numbered contests so far. Both of Detroit's victories in this best-of-seven series have come in overtime, taking Game 2 in Anaheim by a 5-4 score before evening the set at two games apiece with Monday's 3-2 decision in the Motor City.
Whichever team wins Wednesday's game will get a chance to close the series when the teams met in Detroit on Friday for Game 6.
Gustav Nyquist notched the game-winner for Detroit in Game 2, but it was rookie Damien Brunner's turn to play OT hero on Monday. Brunner scored at 15:10 of overtime to lift the Red Wings to the win and keep the Ducks from moving one win away from ending the series.
Nyquist also played a role in winning goal on Monday, as he split the defense up the middle and tried to get a shot on net, but Jonas Hiller poked the puck away before he could get a stick on it. The puck, though, came out and there were no defenders to clear it and Brunner slammed it home to help the Red Wings tie the series at 2-2.
"We knew this was a big game because we didn't want to go down 3-1 in this series," said Brunner. "You know, our first game here we couldn't get a goal and we didn't want to disappoint the fans that way again."
Pavel Datsyuk tied the game in regulation while Brendan Smith added a goal and an assist for the Red Wings. Jimmy Howard made 31 stops in the win.
"The game is important, but more important it's a best-of-three right now," said Detroit head coach Mike Babcock. "The longer you can put this off, the better I like our chances."
David Steckel and Matt Beleskey scored for the Ducks, who got 46 stops from Hiller in the contest.
"Everyone knows they're a puck-possession team," said Beleskey. "So the more time you give them the better they're going to play. We had the lead twice tonight and they came back. It was our game to win tonight and we gave it back to them."
Anaheim led Game 4 by a 2-1 count after Steckel scored with 10:40 remaining in the third, but Datsyuk tied the game three minutes later as his heavy wrister went just under the crossbar for his first of the playoffs.
The Red Wings played Monday without forward Justin Abdelkader, who will serve the final part of a two-game suspension tonight. Abdelkader received the two- game ban for his high hit on Ducks defenseman Toni Lydman in Game 3. Lydman, who had to be helped off the ice and didn't return to play, is expected to miss his second straight tilt tonight.
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
The Red Wings were 11-9-4 as the road club this season, while the Ducks compiled a 16-7-1 mark at the Honda Center.