Archive for Thursday, May 29, 2008

Penguins cut Wings’ series lead in half

Crosby scores two goals to help Pittsburgh edge Detroit, 3-2

May 29, 2008


— The Penguins are 0-for-The Joe but downright perfect at home.

After two shutout losses to the Red Wings in Detroit's Joe Louis Arena, Sidney Crosby scored Pittsburgh's first two goals of the Stanley Cup finals and carried the Penguins to a 3-2 victory Wednesday night.

The Red Wings still lead the series, 2-1, with Game 4 back in Pittsburgh on Saturday night. The finals then shifts back to Detroit for a now necessary fifth game.

The Penguins improved to 9-0 at home in the playoffs and have won 17 straight there, dating to a loss to San Jose on Feb. 24. Their previous game in front of the home crowd was a 6-0 blitz in the clinching Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against Philadelphia.

They were outscored, 7-0, in Detroit.

"Whether it was me or anybody else, we just wanted to get the first one," Crosby said. "We wanted to get a goal, find a way. That was the mind-set going in, and it was nice to get it for sure."

Marc-Andre Fleury, who hasn't been beaten at home in 19 games, made 32 saves. He allowed Johan Franzen's power-play goal with 5:12 left in the second period that cut Pittsburgh's lead to 2-1 and Mikael Samuelsson's tally in the third that again got Detroit within one.

Chris Osgood stopped 21 shots, but fell to 6-1 in his career in the finals. He backstopped the Red Wings' championship round sweep of Washington in 1998, though it became clear this wouldn't be his night when Adam Hall banked a shot in off his skate from behind the net 7:18 into the third period.

"We didn't play as well as should have," Detroit defenseman Brian Rafalski said. "We were playing well until they got that first goal, that gave them a lot of momentum and got the crowd into it. They took it from there."

The Red Wings led Nashville 2-0 in the first round, only to be tied through four games. Dallas forced a Game 6 in the Western finals after trailing, 3-0. Might the Penguins be ready to stage the latest comeback?

"Look at it. We're one game away from tying up the Stanley Cup finals, after a lot of you guys counted us out," defenseman Ryan Whitney said.

Crosby had been bottled up by the Red Wings' top line of Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom, but got free at times at home where the Penguins enjoyed the last change.

His first goal came with that Detroit trio on the ice, and the second was scored during a power play.

"His work ethic was there. He stuck to the plan," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. "That's what you're looking for from your captain, show an example. Good players, when the challenge is there, they like to play those type of games."

Now Pittsburgh has a chance to equal the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, who dropped two shutout losses to start the 2003 finals in New Jersey before rebounding to get even with two wins at home.

The Penguins have Crosby, their 20-year-old captain, to thank for that.


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