DETROIT (AP) -A frustrated Sidney Crosby took a whack at Kirk Maltby's skate as Game 1 ended, tired of what he called the nonstop chirping by the Red Wings forward. So far, it might be Crosby's best shot of the Stanley Cup finals.
Blanketed by Henrik Zetterberg whenever he steps on the ice, Crosby has gone from being the best player in the playoffs to being a concern to the Pittsburgh Penguins because of his lack of offense.
He's not playing badly, but he's not playing like Sidney Crosby.
The Penguins' 3-1 loss on Sunday night put them down 2-0 to Detroit for the second successive finals, and Crosby's inability to duplicate his previously dominating play - 14 goals and 14 assists in 17 games in the first three rounds - is a reason why.
"There's tons of explanations, but the fact is you get quick chances and either you put them in or you don't, and that's the difference," Crosby said.
Crosby has no points in two frustrating nights against Detroit, though it's hardly for a lack of effort. He nearly broke through in the opening 90 seconds of the third period when, with Pittsburgh within a goal of tying it, he rang a shot off the left post and nearly stuffed the rebound past Chris Osgood.
As Osgood tried to gather the puck in a crowd, the Penguins felt Zetterberg illegally covered the puck with his hand, just as he did on a similar play in Game 1 when the puck was atop Osgood's back.
About a minute later, who-is-this-guy Justin Abdelkader - a rookie who had not scored a single NHL goal until the finals - scored early in the third period for the second game in a row.
Who could have possibly guessed that Abdelkader would have two goals through two games and Crosby would have none? Until Abdelkader scored Saturday in Detroit's 3-1 victory, no player had scored his first career goal in a Stanley Cup finals game since Pittsburgh's Jim Paek in 1991.
It's an all-too-familiar scenario for the Penguins, who never recovered from their 2-0 deficit last year and lost the finals to Detroit in six games. Evgeni Malkin has a goal and an assist, but the Penguins - who scored 13 goals in their final two games of the conference finals against Carolina but have only two in two games against Detroit - aren't finding the open ice they previously did.
The left and right post, they're hitting those with regularity.
"Instead of hitting the post, we have to hit the net," defenseman Hal Gill said.
The Red Wings, as resilient and creative as ever, are getting contributions up and down their lineup as they try to win their fifth Stanley Cup since 1997, despite being without injured star forward Pavel Datsyuk. So much for fatigue and the Penguins' youth being a factor in Game 2.
The scoreboard to date: Red Wings 2, Penguins 0. Abdelkader 2, Crosby 0.
Still, the Penguins also trailed Washington 2-0 in the Eastern Conference semifinals, won two at home and eventually won the series in seven.
"We were down 2-0 to Washington, and nobody thought they'd win the series and we found a way," defenseman Sergei Gonchar said.
However, Bill Guerin cautioned, "We know we're playing a better team."
Zetterberg, one of the NHL's best defensive forwards, was on the ice for part or all of Crosby's 25 shifts in Game 1, when Crosby was limited to two shots. Zetterberg hopped over the boards again whenever Crosby even glanced at the ice on Sunday night and, while Crosby was far more visible in the Red Wings' zone than he was in Game 1, getting five shots, he still couldn't get the puck into the net.
"You see that happen so often, when teams are that good and you get to this point, so we've just got to make sure that we stick to things and keep playing the way we are and bear down on our chances," Crosby said.
It's hardly as if Crosby has been invisible, as he had three excellent scoring chances in the third period alone, but the Penguins are so star-driven that even one or two games without a big game from Crosby or Malkin stands out.
The Red Wings can lose Datsyuk and win. It's becoming obvious the Penguins can't go without Crosby producing.