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Deja vu: Red Wings and Penguins poised for rematch

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DETROIT (AP) -Chris Osgood has seen up close what it takes to win consecutive Stanley Cups.

Osgood was the Detroit Red Wings' No. 1 goaltender in 1998 when they repeated a year after he was a backup on their championship team. He won his third Cup last year against the Pittsburgh Penguins and will go for No. 4 Saturday night in Game 1 of the finals.

Osgood is fired up to get started because he claims these Red Wings are more talented and versatile than they were the last time they won back-to-back Cups.

"This team can win in more different ways than those teams could," Osgood said Friday, the day before Game 1. "We can win ugly. We can win a wide-open game. We can win the grind-them-out games."

Osgood, though, believes the Penguins pose a greater challenge than they did a year ago because they have learned how to play playoff hockey.

"They don't try to score as many pretty goals as they did last year," he said. "They're happier just to score the ugly, bang-it-in-the-net goals.

"We'll have to be ready for something different from them this season."

The NHL is ready for something different, too, by getting a championship rematch for the first time in a quarter-century.

Edmonton beat the four-time defending champion New York Islanders in 1984 after losing to them the previous year in the finals.

Pittsburgh hopes to follow the Oilers' path of losing against a powerhouse, which Detroit has become with four titles in 11 seasons, then winning the Cup the next season against the same team.

"We know what to do," Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby said. "Last year, that wasn't the case."

Detroit is shooting to become the first NHL team to repeat since Osgood, Nicklas Lidstrom and some of its other current players did 1998.

Mike Babcock is the first coach to reach the Stanley Cup finals three times in a six-season span since Edmonton's Glen Sather two-plus decades ago.

Last year, he cherished winning the Cup with his wife and kids soaking up the moment with him in Pittsburgh after Game 6. In Babcock's debut season as an NHL coach, he and the Anaheim Ducks lost to New Jersey in Game 7 of the 2003 finals.

"It's the most fun you can ever have in your whole life to win that great trophy," he said. "To touch it, to have your name printed on it, to share it with your family and the community and the people that have helped you along the way."

Marian Hossa could've been on either conference championship team this season, and he hopes he made the right choice. Hossa helped Pittsburgh reach the finals last year, then turned down a long-term deal in the summer to stay and signed a one-year deal in Detroit.

"I could be a good scout because I picked the two best teams right now," Hossa said with a smile. "In life, you have to make hard decisions and I chose this one.

"Hopefully I made the right decision."

While Detroit was near the top of the standings all season, Pittsburgh had to rally just to earn a postseason bid.

The Penguins have surged since February when coach Michel Therrien, who took them to the finals last year, was fired. Pittsburgh was in 10th place in the Eastern Conference and in danger of missing the playoffs.

Dan Bylsma, who played for Babcock six years ago when Anaheim played the Devils in the finals, was promoted from the AHL to head coach and led an 18-3-4 finish that vaulted the Penguins to becoming a fourth-seeded team in the Eastern Conference.

"You dream your whole life about being in that position and you work so hard, and right at that moment you never know if you're going to get another chance," Crosby said. "We feel pretty fortunate to get a second chance here."

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AP Hockey Writer Ira Podell contributed.

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