As the hours count down to Game 6 between the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks, each team is determined to be the looser.

The Wings host the Blackhawks at Joe Louis Arena tonight (8 p.m., NBCSN, CBC). If the Wings win, they’ll have the second-round series in their pocket, and can sit back and spend Tuesday waiting for Los Angeles and San Jose to duel in Game 7. If the Wings lose, they’ll be looking at a Game 7, Wednesday at United Center.

So, be loose to avoid losing, is the mantra.

“We talk about it all the time,” coach Mike Babcock said after the morning skate. “Do you want to be tight and tentative, or do you want to be loose and driving? Which one sounds like fun to you? Let’s play.

“There’s six teams left in hockey. Play. Let’s have some fun. The better you play, the longer you get to play. If you don’t play good, you get to go home.”

The Wings squandered chance no. 1 to win the series by a performance Saturday at Chicago that went past loose and straight to lackadaisical.

“Our effort surprised me,” Babcock said. “I thought we’d be better than we were. We weren’t good. We’ve played well here, I don’t know why we wouldn’t be good today. We’re excited about the opportunity.”

The Blackhawks staved off elimination with a dominating 4-1 victory in Game 5, using their power play to great effect and getting the desired effect from assembling a super line of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane, a group that’ll reappear tonight. The Wings are sticking with what’s gotten them to this point, at least for the start of the game, believing that if they just play the way they did in Games 2 through 4, the series will end in six.

“It’s fun to play this time of year,” Valtteri Filppula said, “but obviously we hope that we don’t have to play after tonight any more against these guys.”