It took a while, but when the Red Wings finally had a chance to take this series, they seized it with force, in feisty and familiar ways. They skated through time zones and danger zones, regenerating before our eyes, again lining up behind their captain.

The Wings rolled into Anaheim and knocked off the second-seeded Ducks 3-2 Sunday night in Game 7 to advance to the second round, where the Blackhawks await. Redemption doesn't work as a strategy, but for personal motivation, it can work brilliantly.

The Wings did it with Henrik Zetterberg further cementing his icon status in his first year as captain. They did it with Justin Abdelkader, suspended earlier and relentless now, scoring on a steal-and-breakaway. They did it with Valtteri Filppula, who hadn't played well and knew it, so he did something about it.

Filppula fired the first shot and the biggest shot, and when the Wings get guys like him going, they still can inflict damage. Chicago will be the heavy favorite but I imagine the Blackhawks also will beware, because the Wings' stars are shining and the young guys are growing.

Keeping their cool

Ask the Ducks, who were staggered early and never fully recovered. Zetterberg scored less than two minutes into the game, shoveling in a rebound off a Filppula shot, and the huge red-clad contingent in the California crowd made the Wings feel at home.

"We came in here last game and they lit us up at the start," Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "We talked a lot about it, get rid of your nerves in warm-ups and let's get after them. We really felt as the series went on, we were getting better. We felt advantage us, the longer we could make the series go."