– The Stanley Cup Final has now lasted 120 minutes, and Detroit Red Wings
netminder Chris Osgood
has yet to allow a goal.
Not since New Jersey Devils
goalie Martin Brodeur
's performance in the first two games of the 2003 Stanley Cup Final against the Anaheim Ducks
has a netminder recorded back-to-back shutouts to start Round 4, but Osgood's 22-save performance Monday night put him in an elite group as the Wings coasted to a 3-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins
at Joe Louis Arena and took a 2-0 series lead.
No shutout is ever easy, but Osgood's teammates surely lent a huge hand in what transpired in Game 2. Not only did Tomas Holmstrom
's goal give Detroit a 2-0 lead just 11:18 into the contest, but Osgood didn't see a shot on goal until the 12:01 mark.
Things picked up as the game progressed – Osgood was forced to make 10 saves in the third period – but the Red Wings' netminder was once again up to the task each and every time. With his second straight shutout, Osgood lowered his goals-against average to 1.38, which is tops in the League this postseason.
Osgood said he felt sharp early, even though more than half of the opening period was played before a puck came his way.
"It doesn't matter to me," Osgood said. "I play the game as it comes. We have a very good team. I love playing behind these guys. I just play the games."
Going long amounts of time without facing a shot on goal is nothing new to Osgood. With five-time Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom leading the way on the blue line – combined with Selke Trophy candidates Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg up front – the puck can usually be found at the opposite end of the ice.
Nonetheless, it was still highly impressive that the Red Wings were able to control the puck for the majority of the first 12 minutes and deny Pittsburgh's high-powered offense of a shot on goal.
"I don't need 40 shots to play the game or to feel good," Osgood said. "I feel good regardless. I'm confident regardless. I play the game as it comes. Just win games. I'm not really into stats too much, I'm just into winning."
So is Detroit coach Mike Babcock, who couldn't have been happier with the way his team controlled the tempo of the game from the drop of the puck – something it failed to do in Game 1 but escaped due to Osgood's play in the first period.
"He knows he's not going to get a ton of rubber, but the rubber he does get, he's got to be there," Babcock said. "I think he's playing well. I think it's real important you look after home ice. Nothing's happening in a series until you've won on the road, after you've looked after your business at home. They're going to get regrouped and they're going to have their best effort, and we've got to have our best effort in Game 3."
The Red Wings grabbed a 3-0 lead 8:48 into the third on Valtteri Filppula's goal, which basically assured Detroit of a 2-0 edge in the best-of-seven series that shifts to Pittsburgh for Game 3 Wednesday night. With time winding down on Monday, Osgood was bumped into by Penguins forward Petr Sykora, causing a gathering of players behind the net.
Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien was highly displeased with the opposing netminder during his post-game press conference.
"We took two penalties tonight on the goalie … we never take penalties to the goalie in the playoffs," Therrien said. "I reviewed those plays. He's a good actor. He goes to players, and he's diving. It took away our power play. Osgood did the same thing against Dallas with (Mike) Ribeiro."
Therrien's players concurred.
"I don't think he got pushed really hard out there," Penguins forward Maxime Talbot said. "He did the same thing against Ribeiro. If he wants to do that, that's a shame. We're not playing soccer."
Osgood didn't seem to be fazed by the accusations. It took what seemed to be less than half of a second to brush them off.
"A lot of times, this stuff happens after the whistle," Osgood said. "It doesn't concern me. I've been called worse. I'm not really concerned about it right now. The minute the buzzer goes, it's out of my head. I don't think about the past. I just played between the whistles. That's all I do. I'm more concerned about next game than about this game."
Osgood admitted he wouldn't have believed it if someone had told him he'd have back-to-back shutouts in the first two games of this series. In the end, though, he's more focused on the fact that he's two wins away from another Stanley Cup championship.
Given the Penguins' success at Mellon Arena this postseason – they're 8-0 on home ice – the series could still be far from over. Osgood, who has won two titles in Hockeytown, is well aware of the situation as the series shifts to the Steel City.
"I would have taken the wins," Osgood said. "That was my focus, to win the two games at home. Not ever did I ever think about getting two shutouts in a row against that team. They've got great offensive players. They've had some great chances, and I also got lucky a few times. I have to stay focused and prepare myself for the next game and try to keep it going."
Contact Brian Compton at: email@example.com.