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Penguins hope home is where the wins are

Tuesday, 05.27.2008 / 2:58 PM / 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs

By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist


Penguins captain Sidney Crosby had a team-high of six shots on goal during Game 2 of the Cup Final against Detroit.
Highlights Get your Sidney Crosby gear now!
PITTSBURGH -- After a lost weekend in Detroit, the Pittsburgh Penguins are glad to be going home.

Not only will the Penguins get to sleep in their beds after a 3-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, they'll be in the friendly confines of Mellon Arena, where they're a perfect 8-0 in this year's Playoffs. Game 3 is Wednesday night (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS, NHL Radio). In fact, the Penguins are 16-0 at the NHL's oldest arena since a 2-1 shootout loss to San Jose on Feb. 24. Their last regulation loss at home was 2-1 to the Boston Bruins on Feb 13.

Overall, they are 34-10-5 at Mellon Arena, and they'll need every advantage they can find as they try to solve a Detroit team that has totally shut down one of the NHL's best offenses for two-straight games, outscoring the Penguins 7-0.

"It's frustrating," center Maxime Talbot said of trying to deal with the Wings' smothering checking system. "The good thing is I think we’re a positive group of guys. We’re going home, and we're real successful at home. The guys are pumped about that. If we lost our two games home, and now we were going away, it would be a different story.

"We know we play really well at home. And guys are ready for Game 3. I think we've just got to turn the page and try to focus on what we did good together to be successful."

If that's the case, they won't have much to watch from Game 2. Detroit led 2-0 on first-period goals by Brad Stuart and Tomas Holmstrom before the Penguins managed as much as a shot on goal. On their few chances, they either shot wide, misfired or were stoned by Wings goalie Chris Osgood, who stopped 22 shots and has turned aside all 41 he's faced in the first two games.

"It's tough," said Pittsburgh center Jordan Staal, who missed the Pens' best chance midway through the second period when he fired wide on a wide-open 15-footer from the slot after defenseman Andres Lilja fell. "They tighten up. They don’t give you much speed coming through there, and they do a great job getting their sticks on pucks and stuff like that. We've just got to do a better job of getting behind their D and working it on the cycle."

Like his teammates, Staal is pumped to be going home for the first Stanley Cup Final game in Pittsburgh since 1992.

"Obviously we play well in our building," he said. "We know our fans are going to be ready, and hopefully we’ll be ready."

The Red Wings know all about being energized by playing in front of their home fans, and they know the Penguins will be eager to wipe away the memory of their Detroit debacle with a spirited performance in front of a sellout crowd.

"I think they're going to come out with a harder effort at home, a lot more energized," Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "(They will) come after us a lot more, too."

The Penguins came after Detroit more in Game 2 than they had in the opener, out-hitting the Wings 39-29. The physical play slowed Detroit somewhat in the second period, when Pittsburgh had its best chances.

"I think we've just got to keep moving our feet," said Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby, who had a team-high six shots and was one of the few Penguins able to generate a couple of scoring chances. "I thought we did a great job tonight of finishing our hits and putting a little more pressure on them."

But Crosby doesn't see the switch to Pittsburgh turning the series into a run-and-gun affair, a style the Penguins have the talent to play.

"I think both teams realize there's not going to be a ton of scoring chances," he said. "Unless both teams really open it up and go back and forth, it's not going to be that kind of game. It's going to be very few chances, and it's going to come down to who takes advantage of those chances."

Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien hopes players like Evgeni Malkin will get a boost from playing in front of the home crowd.

"We're going back home to a place where we're tough to play against," he said. "We're going to keep skating, and hopefully with the work ethic by moving our feet. I've always been a true believer – when you've got speed you can usually generate more scoring chances or you’re capable to generate penalties."



Quote of the Day

With this being the last year [at the Coliseum], we'd love to try to get back to the dance like we did against Pittsburgh and prove ourselves and go even further. It's an important year.

— New York Islanders coach Jack Capuano