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Red Wings vs. Penguins Series Storylines

Thursday, 05.28.2009 / 4:45 PM / 2009 Stanley Cup Final: Detroit vs. Pittsburgh
Rematch! This year's Final marks the first time in 25 years that clubs have met in the Stanley Cup Final in consecutive years. The New York Islanders swept the Edmonton Oilers to claim their fourth consecutive Stanley Cup in 1982-83. The Oilers turned the tables and ended the Isles' 'Drive For Five' with a 4-1 series win in 1983-84, their first of five Stanley Cups in a seven-year stretch (1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1990).

Stanley Cup Final rematches are rare; there have been just two since 1970 (Oilers-Islanders in 1983/1984 and Montreal Canadiens-Boston Bruins in 1977/1978) and five in the past 50 years.

Championship Round Rematches, Past Half Century (since 1959)

NHL - 5 
Oilers-Islanders in 82-83 and 83-84
Canadiens-Bruins in 76-77 and 77-78
Canadiens-Blues in 67-68 and 68-69
Maple Leafs-Red Wings in 62-63 and 63-64
Maple Leafs-Canadiens in 58-59 and 59-60

NBA - 9
Bulls-Jazz in 96-97 and 97-98

Lakers-Celtics in 83-84 and 84-85

Lakers-76ers in 81-82 and 82-83

Sonics-Bullets in 77-78 and 78-79

Knicks-Lakers in 71-72 and 72-73

Celtics-Lakers in 67-68 and 68-69

Celtics-Lakers in 64-65 and 65-66

Celtics-Lakers in 61-62 and 62-63
Celtics-St. Louis Hawks in 59-60 and 60-61

NFL - 3  
Bills-Cowboys in 1993 and 1994

Giants-Packers in 1961 and 1962

Colts-Giants in 1958 and 1959

MLB - 1 
Yankees-Dodgers in 1977 and 1978

Repeat After Me: The Red Wings were the last team to win consecutive Stanley Cups, doing so in 1997 and 1998. Five of the players who competed for both champions have appeared for the Red Wings in the 2009 playoffs: Kris Draper, Tomas Holmstrom, Nicklas Lidstrom, Kirk Maltby and Chris Osgood. A sixth, Darren McCarty, also is on the roster.

The Red Wings and Penguins also are the first teams to appear in consecutive Finals since the New Jersey Devils in 2000 and 2001. The Devils defeated the Dallas Stars in six games in 2000 and dropped a seven-game series to the Colorado Avalanche in 2001.

Making It Back: The Penguins are the first club since the 1983-84 Oilers to return to the Stanley Cup Final after losing in the Final the previous season.

2008 Stanley Cup Final: Looking Back At A Classic: The series started with Red Wings goaltender Chris Osgood becoming the fourth goaltender in Stanley Cup Final history to post consecutive shutouts in Games 1 and 2.

The Penguins got back in the series with a 3-2 victory in Game 3, highlighted by defenseman Brooks Orpik delivering several big hits in succession with the Penguins defending a 3-1 lead in the third period.

The Red Wings got a split in Pittsburgh and went home with a 3-1 series lead thanks in large part to center Henrik Zetterberg, who shined on the penalty-killing unit that kept Pittsburgh from scoring during five-on-three power plays for 1:26 late in the third period of a 2-1 win.

In an instant classic Game 5, the Penguins became the first team in more than 70 years and just the second team ever to escape elimination in the Stanley Cup Final by scoring a game-tying goal in the final minute of the third period (Maxime Talbot, 19:25). Petr Sykora's power-play goal at 9:57 of the third overtime period won it for the Penguins in the fifth-longest contest in Stanley Cup Final history. Sykora made good on his bold prediction during the second OT period that he would score. Earning an assist on the play was defenseman Sergei Gonchar, taking his first shift since suffering an injury in the second period hours earlier. Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made 55 saves, the most in a Stanley Cup Final game since 1998. Fleury's best of the 55 was his diving stop to rob Mikael Samuelsson late in the second period.

Zetterberg again was the hero for the Red Wings in Game 6 as the Red Wings captured the 11th Stanley Cup in franchise history with a 3-2 win. Zetterberg earned an assist on Brian Rafalski's first-period goal to open the scoring, scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal in the third period and helped kill another 5-on-3 for 1:33 in the first period. Typifying the valiant effort by the Penguins throughout the series, a last-ditch scoring attempt by the Penguins' Marian Hossa sent the puck trickling across the Red Wings' crease as time expired. Vasteras, Sweden native Nicklas Lidstrom became the first European-trained captain to lift the Stanley Cup in triumph. Zetterberg earned the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in recognition of his contributions at both ends of the ice.

Game 6 drew an average of 6.8 million viewers in the U.S. on NBC, making it the most-watched Game 6 since the NHL returned to network television in 1995 and the third most-watched Stanley Cup Final game overall in that same span. The 4.0 national rating and 7 share was a 111 percent increase over Game 6 in 2006 (Edmonton-Carolina, 1.9/4).

Who's Missing From Last Year? Nine Penguins who faced the Red Wings in 2008 are no longer with the club, including forward Marian Hossa and reserve goaltender Ty Conklin, who signed with the Red Wings as unrestricted free agents last summer. The others are forwards Adam Hall, Gary Roberts, Ryan Malone, Georges Laraque and Jarkko Ruutu and defensemen Darryl Sydor and Ryan Whitney.

In contrast, 18 of the 20 Red Wings who dressed against the Penguins last year remain with the club. The exceptions are forward Dallas Drake and goaltender Dominik Hasek, each of whom retired following the season.

Who's New To The Party? Since meeting the Red Wings in last year's Final, the Penguins signed unrestricted free agent forwards Ruslan Fedotenko, Miroslav Satan, Matt Cooke and Eric Godard over the summer; acquired defenseman Philippe Boucher from Dallas in November, reserve goaltender Mathieu Garon from Edmonton in December and forwards Bill Guerin and Chris Kunitz from the New York Islanders and Anaheim, respectively, at the March 4 trade deadline. The club also claimed forward Craig Adams on waivers from Chicago at the deadline and promoted rookie defenseman Alex Goligoski from AHL Wilkes-Barre Scranton.

The Red Wings' only major roster acquisitions since winning the Stanley Cup a year ago have been the free agent signings of the two former Penguins, forward Marian Hossa and goaltender Ty Conklin. The other newcomers are rookies from the Red Wings' successful developmental pipeline: forwards Justin Abdelkader and Ville Leino and defenseman Jonathan Ericsson.

Crosby, Malkin Producing At Historic Playoff Rate: Penguins centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin rank third and fourth all-time in playoff points per game, joining Hall of Fame legends Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Mark Messier in the top five.

Highest Career Point-Per-Game Average, Stanley Cup Playoffs

1. Wayne Gretzky, 1.84          (208 GP, 122-260--382)

2. Mario Lemieux, 1.61           (107 GP, 76-96--172)

3. Sidney Crosby, 1.43         (42 GP, 23-37--60)

4. Evgeni Malkin, 1.29           (42 GP, 22-32--54)

5. Mark Messier, 1.25             (236 GP, 109-186--295)

* Crosby and Malkin rank 1-2 in playoff scoring, each with 28 points in 17 games (Crosby 14-14--28, Malkin 12-16--28).

* Crosby is five goals from the NHL single-playoff record of 19, shared by Reg Leach (Philadelphia, 1976) and Jari Kurri (Edmonton, 1985).

* Malkin tallied 16 points in a six-game span (May 9-23) -- the last NHL player with 16+ points over a six-game span in one playoff year was Gretzky, for the Los Angeles Kings in 1993 (6 goals, 10 assists, April 27-May 9).

Hossa In The Spotlight: Red Wings forward Marian Hossa is the first player to switch sides in a Stanley cup Final rematch since 1964 and just the second player ever to do so. Forward John MacMillan, who appeared in one game of the 1963 Final with Toronto against Detroit, was claimed on waivers by the Red Wings in December, 1963 and played four games against the Maple Leafs in the 1964 Final.

The Penguins had obtained Hossa, a four-time 80-point scorer and five-time All-Star, from the Atlanta Thrashers at the 2007-08 trade deadline, and the move paid off: Hossa ranked third among playoff scorers with 26 points (12 goals, 14 assists) in 20 games and led the Penguins in scoring during the Stanley Cup Final against the Red Wings. He became an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2008 and signed with Detroit the following day. He is in quest of his first Stanley Cup championship.

 “It’s attractive hockey, it’s a lot of offense and a lot of great players. I want to play that way. I liked playing like that in Pittsburgh, and when I look at Detroit, it’s a similar style. But it’s all about winning and that’s what I’m looking for.”

- Marian Hossa, July 2, 2008, after signing with the Red Wings

More Familiarity: The Red Wings and Penguins had never met in postseason play entering the 2008 Stanley Cup Final and had not faced each other during the 2007-08 regular season. This year, the clubs can break down tape of eight recent games -- last year's classic six-game Stanley Cup Final and two regular-season contests in 2008-09.

Season Series: The clubs split their two regular-season meetings in 2008-09, each winning on the road:

* On Nov. 11, the Penguins posted a wild 7-6 comeback victory at Joe Louis Arena. Pittsburgh center Jordan Staal scored a hat trick in the third period and set up the overtime winner by Ruslan Fedotenko as the Penguins won a game they had trailed 3-1, 5-2 and 6-4.

* On Feb. 8, a pair of former Penguins were key players as the Red Wings blanked Pittsburgh 3-0 at Mellon Arena. Goaltender Ty Conklin made 25 saves to post his sixth shutout of the season and forward Marian Hossa scored an insurance goal with the Red Wings nursing a 1-0 lead midway through the third period.

Ozzie Rules: Detroit G Chris Osgood replaced Dominik Hasek midway through Game 4 of the Red Wings' opening-round victory over Nashville in the 2008 postseason and has been the Red Wings' playoff starter since. In that span he has posted a playoff record of 26-8 with a 1.79 goals-against average, .927 save percentage and four shutouts.

* Osgood recorded his 71st career playoff victory in the series-clinching 2-1 overtime victory over Chicago in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final, moving into a tie with Jacques Plante for eighth place on the all-time list. The only goaltenders with more career playoff victories than Osgood are Patrick Roy (151), Martin Brodeur (98), Grant Fuhr (92), Ed Belfour (88), Billy Smith (88), Ken Dryden (80) and Mike Vernon (77).

Tale of the Tape: The Stanley Cup Finalists offer a contrast in size and age. Among players who have appeared in at least one playoff game in 2009, the Red Wings' average age is 33.4, more than four years older than the Penguins' average of 29.0. The Penguins measure in at 6'1" and 203 pounds; the Red Wings average 6'0" and 196 lbs.

Perennial Playoff Performers: Since 1991, both the Red Wings and Penguins rank among the top five clubs in postseason games among the major pro sports. The Red Wings have played in the most (237), followed by the Los Angeles Lakers (214) and San Antonio Spurs (211) of the NBA, the New Jersey Devils (197) and Penguins (188).

Conklin A Fixture At Big Events: Months after becoming the only NHL player to dress for each of the first three NHL Winter Classics, Red Wings goaltender Ty Conklin is making his third trip to the Stanley Cup Final -- with three different clubs -- in the past four seasons. In 2006, Conklin's Edmonton Oilers dropped a seven-game decision to the Carolina Hurricanes. Last year, Conklin's Penguins fell in six games to the Red Wings.

Head Coaching Ties: Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma played under current Red Wings bench boss Mike Babcock in 2002-03, when Babcock, as a rookie head coach in the NHL, guided the Anaheim Ducks to the Stanley Cup Final. "To me, he's always been a student of the game," Babcock told ESPN.com. "I think it was his destiny to be a coach. I think he'll be a coach as long as he wants."

Babcock Making Finals A Habit: Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock is making his third trip to the Stanley Cup Final in seven NHL seasons behind the bench. He guided the Anaheim Ducks to Game 7 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Final before falling to the New Jersey Devils and won his first championship with the Red Wings last year.

Bylsma Vies For Stanley Cup As Rookie NHL Coach: Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma is attempting to become the 14th rookie head coach, and just the fourth since 1956, to capture the Stanley Cup. Of these, only Montreal's Al MacNeil (1970-71) took over in mid-season.

Bylsma, 38, replaced Michel Therrien Feb. 15 and went 18-3-4 thereafter. Bylsma had been an assistant coach for two seasons with Pittsburgh’s AHL affiliate Wilkes Barre-Scranton before being elevated to that club’s head coach to begin this season.

The last team to win the Stanley Cup after making a coaching change during the season was the 1999-2000 New Jersey Devils, who replaced Robbie Ftorek with Larry Robinson.

Rookie Head Coaches Who Have Won The Stanley Cup

Coach                            Age        Team
Dick Carroll                    ---           1918 Toronto Arenas
Pete Green                    ---           1920 Ottawa Senators
George O'Donoghue     ---           1922 Toronto St. Pats
Dave Gill                        ---           1927 Ottawa Senators
Cy Denneny                   37           1929 Boston Bruins
Bill Stewart                     43           1938 Chicago Blackhawks
Frank Boucher               38           1940 New York Rangers
Joe Primeau                  45           1951 Toronto Maple Leafs
Jimmy Skinner              38           1955 Detroit Red Wings
Toe Blake                       43           1956 Montreal Canadiens
Claude Ruel                   30           1969 Montreal Canadiens
Al MacNeil                     35           1971 Montreal Canadiens
Jean Perron                   39           1986 Montreal Canadiens

Trophy Candidates: Three members of the Red Wings are 2008-09 NHL trophy finalists. C Pavel Datsyuk is a finalist for four awards, the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP; the Lester B. Pearson Award as the most outstanding player as selected by NHL players; the Selke Trophy as top defensive forward; and the Lady Byng Trophy for skill and gentlemanly play. Nicklas Lidstrom is in contention for the Norris Trophy as top defenseman, while D Chris Chelios is a finalist for the Masterton Trophy for sportsmanship and dedication. Penguins C Evgeni Malkin joins Datsyuk as a finalist for Hart and Pearson honors.

Winners will be announced at the 2009 NHL Awards, broadcast live from the Pearl Concert Theater inside the Palms Hotel Las Vegas on Thursday, June 18.

Detroit Red Wings

NHL Playoff Appearance: 57th (18th consecutive)

Stanley Cups: 11 (1936, 1937, 1943, 1950, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2008)

All-Time Playoff Series Record: 65-45

All-Time Playoff Game Record: 297-258-1

Key Acquisitions During The Season
None.
Playoff Series Recaps
Conference Finals:
The Red Wings advanced to the Stanley Cup Final for the second consecutive season and the sixth time since 1995 with a five-game triumph over the Chicago Blackhawks. With multiple NHL trophy finalist Pavel Datsyuk sidelined for the final three games of the series and perennial Norris Trophy nominee Nicklas Lidstrom out for the last two, the Red Wings showcased their unparalleled organizational depth. Valtteri Filppula led all scorers with seven points (one goal, six assists), Dan Cleary tallied a series-high five goals and +6 rating, Mikael Samuelsson notched a pair of game-winning goals and Darren Helm dazzled defensively and scored the series-winning goal in overtime.

Conference Semifinals: In a match-up of Stanley Cup champions from the past two seasons, the Red Wings eliminated the Anaheim Ducks in a thrilling seven-game series. The outcome hung in the balance until Detroit forward Dan Cleary scored with three minutes remaining in the third period of Game 7, lifting the Red Wings to a berth in the Western Conference Final for the third consecutive year and for the eighth time in the past 14 seasons.

Conference Quarterfinals: The Red Wings posted a four-game sweep over Columbus, outscoring the Blue Jackets 18-7. The Red Wings were the only club that did not trail throughout its opening-round series. Forward Johan Franzen led the club in scoring with 2-4--6, capped by the series-winning goal with 47 seconds remaining in Game 4 that broke a 5-5 tie. It marked the sixth consecutive series in which Franzen tallied a game-winning goal and the seventh in his eight series since the start of the 2007 post-season.

Regular-Season Highlights
The Red Wings set an NHL record by posting their ninth consecutive 100-point season with a 4-0 victory at Columbus Mar. 15, passing the Montreal Canadiens' eight-season streak from 1974-75 through 1981-82. The Red Wings also clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the 18th consecutive season -- the longest active streak of playoff qualifying among the major pro sports -- and captured the Central Division title for the eighth consecutive season.

The Red Wings had three defensemen in the top 11 in NHL defense scoring - Nicklas Lidstrom (third, 16-43--59), Brian Rafalski (fifth, 10-49--59), and Niklas Kronwall (11th, 6-45--51). Lidstrom has recorded 997 career regular-season points, just shy of becoming just the eighth defenseman in League history to reach the 1,000-point milestone, and earned his 10th selection as a Norris Trophy finalist in the past 11 seasons.

C Pavel Datsyuk finished fourth in the NHL scoring race with 97 points (32 goals, 65 assists), equaling his career high set in 2007-08. He led the club in scoring for a fourth consecutive season, surpassing the three-year runs of franchise greats Ted Lindsay, Gordie Howe and Steve Yzerman. Datsyuk also excelled at the defensive end, ranking third among NHL players in plus-minus with a +34 rating. Voted a finalist for the Hart, Lady Byng and Frank Selke Trophies, Datsyuk could become the first player ever to sweep these awards in the same season.

The Red Wings were counting on big production from RW Marian Hossa when they signed him as an unrestricted free agent last summer and he responded, notching the third 40-goal season of his NHL career. Hossa, who also tallied 40-goal seasons with the Ottawa Senators and Atlanta Thrashers, is just the eighth player in NHL history to do with three different clubs.

LW Henrik Zetterberg tallied his fourth consecutive 30-goal season, finishing second on the Red Wings in scoring (31-42--73). He is the reigning Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, finishing at or near the top of several 2008 post-season categories including points (1st, 27), goals (T-1st, 13), plus-minus (T-1st, +16), shots (1st, 116), game-winning goals (2nd, four) and assists (T-3rd, 14).

LW Johan Franzen continued his knack for clutch scoring this season, sharing the Red Wings lead in game-winning goals with Marian Hossa (eight). Last season, Franzen franchise records for most game-winners in a calendar month (six in March 2008) and in a single playoff year (five). "The Mule" ranked second on the Red Wings in goals this season with a career-high 34.

Chris Osgood and Ty Conklin are one of three NHL club goaltending tandems who each made at least 40 appearances this season, joining Jean-Sebastien Giguere/Jonas Hiller (Anaheim) and Cristobal Huet/Nikolai Khabibulin (Chicago). Conklin set career highs in wins (25-11-2) and shutouts (six), while Osgood rose to a tie for 10th on the all-time victories list (389) and second on the Red Wings' all-time list (305).

Key Regular-Season Wins
Oct. 11:
It didn't take long for the Red Wings' Johan Franzen to resume his clutch goal-scoring from the Stanley Cup-winning 2007-08 season. Franzen tallied twice in the third period to give the Red Wings a 3-2 comeback victory at Ottawa in the club's second game of the season. Franzen set a franchise record with 13 post-season goals in 2008 after scoring 15 times in Detroit's final 16 regular-season games.

Dec. 13: Johan Franzen scored the game-tying goal with 19.9 seconds remaining in regulation and Henrik Zetterberg and Jiri Hudler tallied in the shootout as the Red Wings escaped with a 5-4 victory at Phoenix. The game also marked the return of Red Wings defenseman Chris Chelios for his 25th NHL season. Chelios had missed Detroit's first 28 games due to injury.

Jan. 1: Playing in front of 40,818 fans outdoors at Chicago's Wrigley Field and the largest regular-season television audience in nearly 13 years, the Red Wings posted a 6-4 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2009 Winter Classic. Trailing 3-1 after the first period, the Red Wings scored five consecutive goals, highlighted by strikes by defensemen Brian Rafalski and Brett Lebda 17 seconds apart in the third period.

Feb. 4: Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom celebrated his 1,300th career regular-season game in style, scoring a power-play goal with 39 seconds remaining in the third period to give Detroit a 5-4 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes at Joe Louis Arena. The goal negated a third-period Phoenix comeback in which the club rebounded from a 4-2 deficit to tie the game with five minutes to play.

Feb. 25: Henrik Zetterberg scored twice, including a highlight-reel shorthanded effort, as the Red Wings defeated the San Jose Sharks 4-1 and earned a split of their season series. The home club won each time in the four contests between the Western Conference leaders.

Pittsburgh Penguins

NHL Playoff Appearance: 23rd (third consecutive)

Stanley Cups: 2 (1991, 1992)

All-Time Playoff Series Record: 26-21

All-Time Playoff Game Record: 136-114

Key Acquisitions During The Season
Nov. 16: Acquired D Philippe Boucher from Dallas for D Darryl Sydor.

Jan. 17: Acquired G Mathieu Garon from Edmonton for G Dany Sabourin, C Ryan Stone and a 4th-round pick in the 2011 Entry Draft.

Feb. 26: Acquired LW Chris Kunitz and LW Eric Tangradi from Anaheim for D Ryan Whitney.

Mar. 4: Acquired RW Bill Guerin from NY Islanders for a conditional pick in the 2009 Entry Draft.

Mar. 4: Claimed RW Craig Adams on waivers from Chicago.
Playoff Series Recaps
Conference Finals:
The Penguins posted a four-game sweep over the Carolina Hurricanes, earning the clinching victory on the road for the third consecutive series. The Penguins outscored Carolina 20-9. Penguins center Evgeni Malkin recorded multiple points in the first three games and led all scorers with nine points (six goals, three assists). Sidney Crosby added seven points (two goals, five assists) and posted a series-high +6 rating.

Conference Semifinals: Pittsburgh emerged from a star-studded, seven-game Conference Semifinal series with Washington by drubbing the Capitals, 6-2, in Game 7. The Penguins rallied after losing the first two games to win three straight. Crosby (8-5--13) and Caps LW Alex Ovechkin (8-6--14) more than lived up to the hype that surrounded their first postseason meeting. G Marc-Andre Fleury’s glove save on an Ovechkin breakaway early in Game 7 enabled the Pens to burst out to a 4-0 lead. Malkin (2-8--10) came on strong after a slow start in the series, scoring the OT winner in Game 5. D Kris Letang scored three goals in the series, including one in overtime to end Game 5.

Conference Quarterfinals: The Penguins eliminated the Philadelphia Flyers in six games, vanquishing their intra-state rival for the second consecutive playoff year. The series was capped by a 5-3 victory in Philadelphia, a game the Penguins had trailed, 3-0. Malkin, the NHL's scoring champion in the regular season, also led all players in the first round with 4-5--9. Crosby was one of three players tied for second with eight points (4-4--8).

Regular-Season Highlights
The Penguins went 18-3-4 after Dan Bylsma replaced Michel Therrien as head coach on Feb. 15, surging from 10th place to fourth in the Eastern Conference.

C Sidney Crosby began the season in milestone, hat trick fashion and ended it soaring. He scored his 100th NHL goal, recorded his 200th assist and his 300th point all in the same game, Oct. 18 vs. Toronto. The Pens’ 21-year-old captain also recorded a point in 16 consecutive games in which he played -- nine goals, 18 assists -- from Feb. 16 through Apr. 1. With two goals at Tampa Bay on Apr. 7, Crosby eclipsed the 30-goal and 100-point marks for the third time in four NHL seasons.

C Evgeni Malkin followed up his brilliant 2007-08 season with another Hart Trophy-contending year. His 113 points and 78 assists, both career-highs, led the NHL, making him the eighth player to win the Art Ross Trophy in the last eight seasons. Lethal on the power play (14 goals), Malkin was the League’s most productive even-strength player, amassing an NHL-high 70 even-strength points. He recorded his 300th career point in his 240th NHL game on Apr. 7 vs. Tampa Bay, tied a career-high with a five-point (2-3--5) game Mar. 17 vs. Atlanta and had four other four-point games.

Trades for LW Chris Kunitz and RW Bill Guerin in the week leading up to the Mar. 4 trade deadline bolstered the Penguins’ depth up front. Kunitz, acquired from Anaheim Feb. 26, scored seven goals with 11 assists in 20 games as a Penguin. Guerin, acquired from the NY Islanders Mar. 4, had 12 points in 17 games after the trade.

D Sergei Gonchar, who had missed the first four months recovering from shoulder surgery, made his 2008-09 debut Feb. 14, immediately energizing the Pittsburgh power play. Clicking at just a 16.2 percent success rate without him, the Pens’ PP scored on 19.3 percent of its chances (22 for 114) upon his return. Of Gonchar’s 19 points, 13 came on the power play. Jumping right back into the role of the team’s No. 1 defenseman, Gonchar led the Pens in average ice time (25:11).

When G Marc-Andre Fleury’s game soared, so did the Pens’ position in the standings. The 24-year-old who backstopped Pittsburgh to the 2008 Final went 9-1-2 with a 1.87 goals against average and .938 save percentage in March. He started 19 straight games from Feb. 3 through Mar. 10, going 12-4-3. With 111 career victories, Fleury trails only Tom Barrasso (226) on the franchise’s goaltending wins list.

Key Regular-Season Wins

Oct. 4: The Penguins opened defense of their Eastern Conference championship with a 4-3 overtime victory over the Ottawa Senators at a sold-out Globe Arena in Stockholm. Penguins forward Tyler Kennedy scored with 25 seconds remaining in the extra period to win the first regular-season game ever played in Sweden. Kennedy also had opened the scoring at the 0:40 mark of the first period.

Nov. 11: Facing the Detroit Red Wings for the first time since the 2008 Stanley Cup Final -- and former teammate Marian Hossa for the first time in a Red Wings uniform -- the Penguins posted a wild 7-6 comeback victory at Joe Louis Arena. Jordan Staal scored a hat trick in the third period and set up the overtime winner by Ruslan Fedotenko as the Penguins overcame deficits of 3-1, 5-2 and 6-4.

Feb. 4: The Penguins trailed the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-0 entering the third period but turned the tables on their visitors with a rally that culminated with Evgeni Malkin's game-winning goal with 15.5 seconds remaining in overtime. "You always look back at seasons, and turning points, and hopefully this is one for us," captain Sidney Crosby said.

Feb. 21: Sidney Crosby scored his second goal of the game to break a tie with 2:15 left in regulation as Pittsburgh defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 5-4, ending the Penguins' five-game winless drought on the road. It marked the second consecutive game in which the Penguins had surrendered a two-goal lead in the third period but rebounded to win.

Apr. 7: The Penguins clinched a playoff berth for the third consecutive season with a 6-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Captain Sidney Crosby scored a pair of goals 1:04 apart in the second period to join teammate Evgeni Malkin as 100-point scorers -- the first time two Pittsburgh players have reached the century mark in the same season since Mario Lemieux (161) and Jaromir Jagr (149) in 1995-96



Author: NHL .com

Quote of the Day

It's time we got a break. People that have watched us, I'm sure they said, 'Finally, some things are going our way.' We'll take the breaks when they go our way.

— Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien after a 3-2 overtime win against the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday to snap a three-game losing streak
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