DETROIT (AP) -Nicklas Lidstrom and Jonathan Ericsson couldn't have come back at a better time for the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings.
The Swedish defensemen returned for Game 1 of the finals Saturday night and were instrumental in limiting the Pittsburgh Penguins to one goal and holding star Sidney Crosby scoreless in Detroit's 3-1 victory.
Lidstrom, the Red Wings' 39-year-old captain, missed the last two games of the Western Conference finals against Chicago because of a lower-body injury, while Ericsson played Saturday after having his appendix removed three days earlier.
But they weren't the only ones who worked to hold the Penguins in check.
Chris Osgood turned away 31 shots, and bruising defenseman Brad Stuart had five hits - and scored the game's first goal.
Stuart also set the tone early when he smashed Ruslan Fedotenko along the boards.
Lidstrom, a four-time Cup winner, calmly patrolled the blue line, using his superior positioning and stick control to clear the zone time and again and not allow odd-man rushes featuring the speedy Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Lidstrom also logged the most ice time of any player with 24:07.
While the news was good for Detroit in having the two key defensemen back, the Wings still were without a pair of injured frontline players in Pavel Datsyuk and Kris Draper.
Detroit coach Mike Babcock said Datsyuk wasn't ready to return from a foot injury that forced him to sit out the last three games. Draper has played only four of Detroit's 16 playoff games because of an upper-body injury.