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Holmstrom well enough for Game 5 return

by Staff

The Red Wings will get back a big cog in their offense for Game 5 in the form of Tomas Holmstrom, who missed Game 4 with a hamstring injury. The winger has 12 points through 19 games in the postseason.
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DETROIT -- After being forced to miss Game 4 in Pittsburgh with a hamstring injury, Red Wings forward Tomas Holmstrom will be in the lineup on Monday night when Detroit attempts to win its fourth championship in 11 seasons (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS, NHL Radio).

Holmstrom skated Saturday morning at Mellon Arena but was scratched and replaced by Darren McCarty. The injury took place late in the third place Wednesday after a collision with Penguins defenseman Hal Gill.

"They didn't want me to really pull it, otherwise I'd be out for the rest of the playoffs," Holmstrom said of skipping Game 4. "It worked out good. The boys played great. We had a good win there."

The worst part, of course, was being forced to watch his team cling to a one-goal lead, especially when the Wings were forced to kill a two-man advantage in the third period.

"It was terrible," he said. "There's nothing worse. But it's easy when you can see the guys playing really good. I look forward to tomorrow. I'm feeling good."

-- Brian Compton

Bling, bling -- Darryl Sydor's left ring finger was a little shinier Sunday when he showed up for a press conference at the Penguins' team hotel in downtown Detroit.

Sydor, a veteran of five Stanley Cup Final appearances, was wearing the ring he won while playing for the Dallas Stars in 1999.

"I've always worn my rings in the playoffs," said Sydor, who also won with Tampa Bay in 2004. "It just kind of reminds me of how hard it is to try and get these."

Sydor is one of only five Penguins who really know how hard it is. Petr Sykora, Gary Roberts, Sergei Gonchar and Georges Laraque are the only other Pittsburgh players who had played in a Stanley Cup Final before this season.

Of that group, Roberts is the only one who never faced elimination.

Sydor lost Game 5 of the 1993 Final while with the Los Angeles Kings, and Game 6 of the 2000 Final while with the Stars. However, while with the Lightning in 2004 he went into Calgary and won Game 6 before returning home to win Game 7.

"We had to go into Calgary and win Game 6, and that was a pretty hostile environment," Sydor said. "What happens is that fourth game is the toughest game to win for a team trying to close it out."

-- Dan Rosen

Staal says he's OK -- Despite some noticeable swelling in his foot following Game 4, Penguins center Jordan Staal said he will play in Game 5. Staal took a shot off his foot late in Saturday night's game and was seen limping out of the arena.

"Yeah, feels fine," Staal said. "Had a blocked shot on my foot and just bruised a little. When I took off my skate it started swelling up a bit, but it feels fine today."

-- Dan Rosen

Just Another Game -- Detroit forward Kirk Maltby has been here several times before, so he knows how to treat tomorrow's Game 5, when the Red Wings will have a chance to win the Stanley Cup.

But some of his teammates haven't been in this situation, players like Darren Helm and Niklas Kronwall. Maltby was asked how players who are new to this situation need to act.

"Everyone's been in certain situations, whether it's been in the NHL or international hockey or whatever it may be," Maltby said. "It's just a matter of going out and staying composed. You might be a little nervous because of the nature of the game, but after that first shift it's almost like Game 1. Just get the jitters out and play. Against these guys, we can't be watching and hanging around for things to just come along. We've got to get off to a good start. It's very important."

-- Brian Compton

Hoss dishes accolades -- Marian Hossa knows when he's being beat, and the Penguins winger admitted it Sunday.

Asked if the Penguins' lack of scoring in the Final -- they have four goals in four games after scoring 51 in their first 14 playoff contests -- is simply a case of Detroit being that good or if the fault lies in the Penguins' dressing room, Hossa gave credit where credit is due.

"Well, I think we have to give them lots of credit," Hossa said. "I mean, they're an extremely good hockey club, and there is not much room out there. When there is, seems like we've got difficulty scoring the goals. We're creating chances, but they're not clean chances like we had before because they're tracking back really hard."

Hossa, though, believes the Penguins haven't tested Chris Osgood enough.

"We have so much power in our offense and we can't get clean, clean chances like we did in the three previous rounds," he said. "It's frustrating because we know we could score more goals, but right now they're doing an excellent job defensively."

-- Dan Rosen

No comparison, yet -- McCarty is part of the Red Wings' core group that is one victory away from a fourth Stanley Cup championship. He was a youngster of 25 when the Wings won the Cup in 1997, and says comparisons between that team and this one are a bit premature.

"There are a lot of similarities, definitely," said McCarty. "I think the one thing about '97 is that we won the Cup, and we haven't done that here yet. There are a lot of similarities, but the biggest one is yet to come."

One similarity is that both teams went though some painful losses. The core of this season's team had to suffer through a first-round upset by Edmonton in 2006 and a loss to Anaheim in last year's Western Conference Finals. The 1997 team also went through some painful lessons.

"A lot of us, when we won our first Cup, we had lost our first Cup," McCarty said of a sweep by New Jersey in the 1995 Final, a series the Wings were expected to win. "We learned from losing, whether it was to New Jersey or to Colorado (in the 1996 Western Finals). Then we were fortunate to win. That's what we're trying to get back to."

-- John Kreiser

First is best -- The Red Wings ended a 16-game winning streak by playoff teams that scored the game's first goal when they spotted the Penguins an early 1-0 lead before rallying for a 2-1 victory in Game 3 Saturday night.

But the Penguins would still be well-advised to score first in Game 5. The Red Wings are 9-1 at home in this year's playoffs; they've scored first in all nine victories and lost the only game in which they didn't get the first goal.

Pittsburgh has scored the first goal in only three of its eight road playoff games this year. The Pens are 3-0 when they get the first goal; 1-4 when they don't.

-- John Kreiser

On the Helm of a Cup -- At age 21, with all of seven NHL regular-season games under his belt, Helm is one win away from getting his name on the Stanley Cup.

The enormity is still a little tough for the Winnipeg native to grasp.

"Right now, I don't even have the time to think about it too much," said Helm, who had his first point in the Final when he earned an assist on Jiri Hudler's game-winning goal on Saturday night. "As soon as this is over, I'm definitely going to think back about what happened, the opportunity that came my way."

Like many of the younger Wings, Helm said he's gotten a lot of help from his older teammates, especially the group that's going after a fourth Cup ring.

"It helps seeing how they work, how they prepare," he said. "They've all been through it, they know what to expect and they help us stay calm."

-- John Kreiser

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