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Wings brush aside injuries, just keep winning

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DETROIT (AP) -The Red Wings have been without a league MVP candidate as well as a veteran scorer and faceoff man for the first two games of the Stanley Cup finals.

Some teams might feel sorry for themselves and make excuses.

Not Detroit.

The Red Wings took a 2-0 series lead with a 3-1 win over Pittsburgh on Sunday night despite playing without injured forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Kris Draper.

Datsyuk is trying to return from a foot injury, and Draper is recovering from a sore groin.

In all, the Wings have lost more than 50 man-games to injury this postseason.

Rookie Justin Abdelkader, who wouldn't be playing if it weren't for the injuries to Datsyuk and Draper, scored his second goal in as many games on Sunday.

They are the first two goals of his NHL career, and both made the score 3-1.

Abdelkader became the first rookie to score in consecutive Cup finals games since 1981, when Dino Ciccarelli had goals in the first three games for the Minnesota North Stars.

"He's going to be a great NHL player," Red Wings forward Dan Cleary said of Abdelkader. "He's a good pro already."

Abdelkader, a 22-year-old left wing from Muskegon, also scored the tiebreaking goal with 18.9 seconds to go for Michigan State in the 2007 NCAA championship game.

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SID VICIOUS: Sidney Crosby didn't seem to appreciate Red Wings coach Mike Babcock's comment Sunday morning that the Pittsburgh captain "went headhunting" in Game 1.

"The battle going last night between (Henrik) Zetterberg and Crosby was a great battle, I thought," Babcock said. "I thought he went headhunting right off the hop."

Crosby chuckled when Babcock's remarks were relayed to him.

"I'm not going to get involved in his games," Crosby said before Game 2. "He can say whatever he wants. I don't think I've been known as a head-hunter throughout my career. He's the first one ever to say that, so it's pretty interesting stuff."

Babcock took the opportunity at the beginning of his postgame news conference Sunday to address the situation.

"I'd like to clear something up today," he said. "Because I came to my press conference this morning with the full intention of talking about how two great players were going after each other and going head-to-head and competing real hard.

"When I was walking out of the building, someone ... told me that I got it all stirred up. So I misspoke or I didn't speak well, because to me speaking unfairly about Sidney Crosby would be wrong. So that was my intention.

"He's going after Z, and Z's going after him. ... But I wanted to clear that up because that sure wasn't my intent at all. And it's an unfair comment on a classy player who plays hard."

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WEEKEND OF HOCKEY: The Stanley Cup playoffs can be a grind.

Teams go after each other for 60 minutes and come back and do it again every other night.

But the NHL decided to do things differently for this year's Cup finals, having the Red Wings and Penguins go back-to-back to kick off the series.

Detroit beat Pittsburgh 3-1 on Saturday night at Joe Louis Arena and were back at it on Sunday night with the Wings again winning by the same score.

It marked the first time finals games were being played on consecutive days since 1955.

Wings coach Mike Babcock said the two games in two nights "hurt us."

"I thought we were exhausted out there tonight," he said. "It's amazing what will does for you. ... You've got to will yourself through, grind it out and we'll get a day off tomorrow.

"We should be a better hockey team going into Pittsburgh."

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DRAWING IT UP: The Penguins fared considerably better in the faceoff circle in Game 2 than they did in the series opener.

Detroit won 71 percent of the draws Saturday, but Pittsburgh bounced back, winning 53 percent of them a night later.

The Game 1 faceoff domination by the Wings allowed them to repeatedly control the tempo and keep the puck in the Penguins' zone. Pittsburgh's better showing in Game 2 allowed for a more sustained attack by Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and company.

No one needs to remind Detroit of the importance of winning faceoffs against Pittsburgh, according to center Darren Helm. Only Washington has been better than Detroit on faceoffs in the playoffs.

"We're determined to destroy teams on faceoffs," Helm said. "We focus on faceoffs every game."

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BIG, BIG JERSEY: The thousands of Red Wings fans in and around Joe Louis Arena weren't the only ones donning the team's famous red-and-white, winged-wheel jersey.

The 26-foot-tall bronze "Spirit of Detroit" statue that sits outside the Coleman A. Young Municipal Building - a few blocks from the Joe - was fitted for its very own Wings sweater.

Outfitting the statue with an oversized jersey has become a tradition in Detroit. It has worn Tigers, Pistons and Shock jerseys in recent years as those teams made playoff runs.

The Red Wings paid a $6,500 fee to the Detroit-Wayne Joint Building Authority to assist in the maintenance of the statue, and all costs for the jersey and its installation also were paid by the team.

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ONE-TIMERS: Evgeni Malkin, who had Pittsburgh's lone goal Sunday, became the first player with 30 points in a single postseason since Joe Sakic had 34 for the Colorado Avalanche in 1996. ... Television ratings for Game 1 were down from last year's levels. The NBC telecast drew a 2.6 rating and a 5 share. That's compared with a four-game NBC average of a 3.2 rating and a 6 share one year ago. The first Cup finals game on NBC last year - a Pittsburgh win in Game 3 - earned a 2.8 national rating. ... The lone lineup change in Game 2 was on Pittsburgh's side, where coach Dan Bylsma opted to sit seventh defenseman Philippe Boucher in favor of Pascal Dupuis. The left wing hadn't played since the Penguins' second-round series against the Washington Capitals ... While Pittsburgh's Kris Letang was pulling pucks out of the net during the pregame skate, Sergei Gonchar sneaked up behind and sent a wrist shot toward the goal that knocked Letang's stick out of his hand and on to the ice. Letang turned and glared at his fellow defenseman as Gonchar skated away.

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AP Hockey Writer Ira Podell and AP Sports Writer Alan Robinson contributed to this report.

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