PITTSBURGH - Sidney Crosby and Johan Franzen traded second-period power-play goals as the Pittsburgh Penguins held a 2-1 lead over the Detroit Red Wings through 40 minutes Wednesday in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final.
After labouring through the first two games - and the opening 15 minutes of Game 3 - the Penguins were jolted to life, looking every bit like the team that waltzed to the Eastern Conference championship with a 12-2 record and 51 goals scored.
With Niklas Kronwall serving a hooking penalty, Crosby banged a loose puck past the glove of Red Wings netminder Chris Osgood at 2:02 to give the Penguins a 2-0 lead. Pittsburgh nearly made it 3-0 at the six-minute mark, but Osgood snared a Sergei Gonchar shot headed for the top corner.
Gonchar missed the net on a point-blank backhander moments later.
The Red Wings cut into the deficit at 14:48. With Penguins defenceman Hal Gill serving his second straight minor penalty, Franzen weaved through three Pittsburgh skaters and shovelled a shot past Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
A return to a sold-out Mellon Arena, where the Penguins boast an 8-0 record in the playoffs, seemed to rejuvenate Pittsburgh - particularly in the latter stages of the first period. Crosby ended the Penguins' scoreless stretch at 17:25, knocking a loose puck through Osgood's legs to complete a give-and-go with teammate Marian Hossa.
It was Pittsburgh's first goal in 173 minutes 22 seconds, and brought the capacity crowd to life after Detroit had carried the play for the first three-quarters of the period.
The Red Wings had their best scoring chance of the game 11 minutes into the first. Following a Gonchar turnover, Pavel Datsyuk grabbed a loose puck from the end boards and centred to a wide-open Brad Stuart, whose one-timer hit Fleury and was cleared out of harm's way.
After berating officials following Game 2 - claiming his team wasn't getting enough calls - Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien was handed a power-play just 1:04 into Game 3 on a Franzen obstruction holding call. Ryan Malone had the Penguins' best chance with the man advantage, firing a shot from point-blank range that Osgood stopped with the right pad.
Detroit earned its own power-play chance moments later, but couldn't muster a decent scoring chance.