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Red Wings not the same away from home

NHL.com @NHL

PITTSBURGH (AP) -Only one game in Pittsburgh, and already the Detroit Red Wings are wishing for a change of venue.

The Red Wings got off to a fast start in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday night - maybe too fast.

Along the way, they forgot what got them their two relatively easy victories in the opening games in Detroit, and the 3-2 loss to the Penguins cut their series lead to one game.

The Red Wings flinched. That means they can't clinch in Game 4 on Saturday night, and the first Red Wings-Penguins finals are guaranteed of going to a Game 5 in Joe Louis Arena on Monday night.

"The puck bounced their way, they got off to a lead and kept building on that," said Mikael Samuelsson, who scored Detroit's second goal.

On their octopi-friendly home ice, the Red Wings so dominated Pittsburgh in Games 1 and 2 while winning by a combined score of 7-0 that there was plenty of talk the Wings might sweep a finals for the third time in 11 seasons.

Those home games perhaps made the Red Wings forget how the young Penguins got here, with exceptional speed, talent and playmaking ability, and, too, their home playoff record that now is 9-0.

Those skills finally stood out in Game 3, where Penguins coach Michel Therrien owned the last line change and often used it to get star Sidney Crosby away from the Henrik Zetterberg line that so frustrated Pittsburgh in the first two games.

Still, for half the first period, it looked as if Motown had shifted four hours East, as the Red Wings got nine of their first 10 shots and again clamped down on Pittsburgh's stars. But the Red Wings couldn't get the key first goal as they did in the first two games - they found out why goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is 19-0 at Mellon Arena since Nov. 21 - as they didn't convert two early power-play chances.

"We felt we played a pretty solid road game, but we made a couple of mistakes and it ended up in the back of our net," Detroit's Kris Draper said. "They're very dangerous, if you give them second and third opportunities, they're going to make us pay, and that's what they did tonight."

Brad Stuart, who got that key first goal in Game 2, had an excellent chance to do so again but couldn't score while skating down the slot. Not long after that in the first period, Crosby got the first of his two goals and Pittsburgh had a lead it wouldn't lose, even if it twice failed to hold two-goal leads.

"We didn't play as well as we should have played," defenseman Brian Rafalski said. "We were playing well until they got that first goal. That gave them a lot of momentum and got the crowd into it and they took it from there."

Coach Mike Babcock blamed himself for keeping his top players, including Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, on the ice too much during a first period that Detroit largely dominated until Crosby scored at 17:25.

"I thought those guys tried to do too much," Babcock said. "I thought the coach played them too much and I thought they tried to do too much. So they stayed on too long. And we didn't have the same kind of tempo coming off our bench that we did in the first couple of games. I like the fact that we're trying, but you've got to do more by doing less."

The Red Wings still have history on their side, as 30 of the 31 teams to open a 2-0 series lead at home went on to win the Cup. The team that didn't? The 1942 Red Wings, the only team to blow a 3-0 lead in the finals when it lost to Toronto.

For all of Pittsburgh's improvement, Johan Franzen wondered if it was more a case of Detroit getting away from its game than the Penguins being back on theirs. Even if Fleury looked like he did during the opening three rounds, stopping the shots he should - and several he probably shouldn't have - while making 32 saves.

"I don't know if it was too much they did differently. We lost the puck in some bad spots that we didn't do at home, we didn't get the puck deep and when they got turnovers inside the blue line ... that took great speed," Franzen said. "We've got to get the puck down, that's what slows them down."

Momentum lost? Maybe. A series shifted? The Red Wings don't sense that, not as close as they came to tying it after getting down 3-1 on Adam Hall's goal 7:18 into the third.

"We've got to step it up and play more like we did at home," Franzen said.

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