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Notes: Malkin goal energizes Penguins

by Staff
PITTSBURGH -- Evgeni Malkin was pretty happy after he opened the scoring with a power-play goal less than three minutes into Game 4. After he slammed home an errant shot by defenseman Kris Letang that bounced off the end boards, Malkin skated to the side wall to deliver a hip bump to the glass partition there, a la Alexander Ovechkin.

"It's Finals, there's lots of emotion," Malkin said after waiting more than 45 minutes to make himself available to the media.

Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, more than 180 feet away in his goal crease, loved seeing Malkin jump against the glass, especially because it meant that his team had a 1-0 lead.

"I think that's him, you know," Fleury said. "That's how he is. He always plays with a lot of emotions. It was a huge goal for us. I think every time we can get a goal on these guys it's very cool. So it's always fun to see him go like that."
Malkin later added an assist on Sidney Crosby's game-winner and was named the third star of the game. He has a League-leading 35 points in the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

-- Shawn P. Roarke

Will Datsyuk return? -- It would seem as good a time as any for Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk to get back on the ice now that this best-of-7 Stanley Cup Final with the Pittsburgh Penguins has suddenly become a best-of-3.

The Red Wings return home to Joe Louis Arena for Game 5 Saturday (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS) knowing the Pens are brimming with confidence.

"We're hoping to have him back in the next game," Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "We didn't know if he was going to show up (for Game 4), but if he comes back for the next one, he just adds that extra dimension to our team. He works really hard defensively and is just tough to play against."

The 5-foot-11, 197-pound Datsyuk has missed the last seven games with a foot injury sustained after blocking a shot in Game 2 of the previous round against the Chicago Blackhawks. Detroit coach Mike Babcock admitted during his Thursday morning press conference that Datsyuk had made significant progress, but he was still scratched.

"We can't expect Pav to be the knight in shining armor and come and save us," goalie Chris Osgood said. "The bottom line is we were just giving them too many odd-man rushes. As a team, we need to play more desperate and sharper."

-- Mike Morreale

Fatigue not an issue -- Nicklas Lidstrom doesn't believe this Stanley Cup Final series has turned into a case of Detroit suddenly wearing down against the seemingly spry and determined Pittsburgh forwards.

"I don't see that at all," Lidstrom said. "I just feel that Pittsburgh gained a lot of momentum on the shorthanded goal by (Jordan) Staal and playing in front of their crowd. They were really getting into it and that gave their team a boost."

Lidstrom also feels that wing Henrik Zetterberg, who saw 20:58 of ice time and notched an assist in Thursday's 4-2 loss to the Penguins, is still playing a dominant game.

"I talked to Henrik and he's feeling fine even though he's seeing a lot of minutes," Lidstrom said. "I really felt his legs were going and I didn't see fatigue as being a problem at any point."

Pittsburgh center Sidney Crosby also dispelled the notion Zetterberg has lost a step.

"It doesn't feel like (Zetterberg is losing a step) to me," Crosby said. "It's tough to get any space out there because both teams are pretty committed defensively. You just fight for those chances and when you get them, you try to take advantage of them."

Lidstrom did admit the Penguins pushed harder and refused to be denied in their quest to even this best-of-7 series which resumes Saturday in Detroit.

"They were coming really hard and it's our job to cut down on those turnovers," Lidstrom said. "When we're turning the puck over in the neutral zone, they're able to turn it quick the other way. They're really taking advantage of that."

-- Mike Morreale

Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cup Final GearBad history -- There were no signs of panic in the Detroit dressing room after Pittsburgh's 4-2 victory in Game 4 of the Final. But if history is any indicator, a little concern might be in order.

There have been 39 occasions in which a team has won the first two games in a best-of-7 series and failed to seal the deal. The Red Wings have lost six of those series, tying them with the Boston Bruins for the most in NHL history. The Wings also have been on the wrong end in two of the three instances in which it's happened in the Stanley Cup Final: They blew a 2-0 (and 3-0) lead against Toronto in 1942, losing in seven games, and lost four straight to the Canadiens in 1966 after winning the first two games at Montreal.

In all, the Wings are 28-6 when winning the first two games of a series. The last loss came in 1999, when they dropped four in a row to Colorado after winning the first two games.

Even more ominous for the Wings: Pittsburgh has rallied from a 2-0 deficit to win four times in nine instances when trailing 2-0 in a best-of-7 series. That includes this year's comeback win against the Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

--John Kreiser

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