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For Penguins, frustration as real as 2-0 deficit

Monday, 06.01.2009 / 11:00 AM / 2009 Stanley Cup Final: Detroit vs. Pittsburgh

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

 
The last time the Pittsburgh Penguins were in this kind of hole, it was two rounds ago against Washington and they dug out of it with three-straight wins. The Penguins also were buoyed by the fact they were good enough to win Games 1 and 2.

They had more shots, more chances and more time of possession than the Capitals, but lost both games by a single goal. Alex Ovechkin was the difference in Game 2, but there was very little frustration.

Even though the Penguins have outshot Detroit in each of the first two games of this Stanley Cup Final, the Capitals don't compare to the Red Wings and Pittsburgh can't say it was definitely the better team in Games 1 and 2 at Joe Louis Arena. It also appears the Penguins are quite frustrated.

So while this year's Final may look and feel different than last year's, when Pittsburgh also trailed 2-0 but appeared dazed and confused after being outscored, 7-0, the Penguins still have to win four of five against Detroit to win the Stanley Cup, starting Tuesday in Game 3 (8 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS).

"We have been able to outshoot a good Detroit team, but they have been able to get the timely goals," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said after Game 2. "That is what they have done better and as a result they've got two wins. We have to continue to get to the offensive zone and their goalie, look for the loose pucks and build on that."

The Penguins' frustrations boiled over at the end of Game 2 when Maxime Talbot speared Osgood, pushing the goalie onto his back and starting a fracas that would up with Evgeni Malkin losing all of his upper body equipment in a fight with Henrik Zetterberg.

Malkin was assessed an instigator penalty, and since it was within the final five minutes, according to rule 47.22 it comes with an automatic one-game suspension pending review of the incident. After that review, the League rescinded the instigator penalty so Malkin will be available Tuesday.

With that cleared up, it's the frustration part that seems so paramount. As confident as they might still be, the Penguins, at least privately, have to be questioning if it's really meant to be for them this season.

They hit a couple posts in Game 2 and have not been able to solve Chris Osgood. Sidney Crosby is pointless so far and Marc-Andre Fleury has allowed a couple goals he most definitely would like to have back.

Meanwhile, the Wings have gotten a pair of goals from fourth-line rookie Justin Abdelkader, who didn't have an NHL goal before the third period of Game 1. They have two off funny bounces off the end boards and two more after Pittsburgh iced the puck.

In Game 1, Bylsma chose to call a timeout after the icing, but it didn't work. In Game 2, he opted not to call the timeout and, again, it didn't work.

What is even more alarming for the Penguins is that even though they're still confident, the Wings insist they haven't played their best yet. And a day off might be enough time for Hart, Selke and Lady Byng Trophy finalist Pavel Datsyuk to heal and get back in the lineup.

He hasn't played yet and the Penguins still trail, 2-0.

"We'll get a day off (Monday) and we should be a better hockey team going into Pittsburgh," Detroit's Mike Babcock said. "We found a way to win two games, but we haven't been as good as we're capable of being."

Contact Dan Rosen at drosen@nhl.com


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