When your liabilities become your assets, you finally can start smiling. Here, at last, was Valtteri Filppula — who in the first six games of this playoff series had dropped in fan opinion like an anchor with an anchor tied to it — and a wobbly puck was coming his way.

Filppula, remember, nearly lost this series with a blind, foolish pass in Game 6 that gave the Ducks a goal and new life. He hadn’t scored since the regular season. Time to cringe, right? But the puck came toward him and he backhanded it instinctively and it hit a stick and went past Jonas Hiller and into the net. And just like that, Detroit led, 3-1, and was in firm control of Game 7 — in a series that had been about everything BUT firm control.

Still the Wings. Detroit is moving on in these playoffs, despite being a No. 7 seed, despite being as young as a nest of chicks, despite looking very little like Detroit teams of the past, because this is still a roster with Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk and Jimmy Howard and this is still a franchise with a sense of the moment. Tough teams play when it’s the toughest, and the Red Wings saved their most complete effort for last, saved their biggest stars for the biggest need, and flew 2,000 miles to capture a series that had seen four overtimes, and no back-to-back victories — until Sunday night.

“I think we showed a lot of character down the stretch,” said Niklas Kronwall, after the 3-2 victory. “It’s all about finding a way.”