-- What transpired in Game 3 at Mellon Arena Wednesday night was the exact reason why this Stanley Cup Final received more hype than any other in recent history.
Back-and-forth. Up-and-down. Fewer whistles than a police officer directing traffic.
Unfortunately for the Detroit Red Wings
, they came out on the losing end of a 3-2 decision with the Pittsburgh Penguins
. Not only did the loss assure a fifth game in Detroit Monday, but it also erased delusions some may have had that the Wings were going to play this entire Final without allowing a goal.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby
ended his team's series-long drought at 137:25 when he poked a loose puck past Chris Osgood
in the first period. Crosby would add a power-play goal in the second as the Pens grabbed a 2-0 lead and held on in the third to trim the series deficit to 2-1.
"We knew coming in it wasn't going to be easy … they've got a great team," said Osgood, who finished with 21 saves. "We played very well. People tend to exaggerate when we go up 2-0 that they weren't doing anything. They were playing well and they made it tough on us."
It was Detroit, though, that made it tough on the Pens early in the contest. Had it not been for the play of Marc-Andre Fleury
(32 saves) – and some bad bounces – the Red Wings could have taken an early lead and silenced what was a phenomenal crowd in the Steel City. Early in the contest, the Wings held a 9-1 edge in shots on goal.
But after failing to capitalize on several chances, Crosby put the Pens in front and his team seized control of the game well into the second period.
"We got off to a pretty good start on the road," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "I thought we were under control, and then I thought they had a pretty good push after a timeout and scored a goal. I thought they controlled the next 20 minutes of the game."
Johan Franzen regained his scoring touch with a power-play goal late in the second period, as the Pens' defense allowed him to skate in off the left-wing boards and fire a quick shot past Fleury. But Pittsburgh finally got a huge break in this series, when Adam Hall snapped a quick shot from behind the net off the backside of an out-of-position Osgood and into the net to make it 3-1.
"We didn't get it out when we should have a few times," Red Wings forward Kirk Maltby said. "Those are the bounces that happen during the course of a series. They kind of all work out in the end. We have to be a little bit better in our own zone. I don't think they did anything we didn't expect. I think if we stick to our game plan and do what we're capable of, we'll have a chance of playing a little bit better."
Pittsburgh certainly played the way it is capable of playing Wednesday night, which could be an indication this series is far from over. Even before the puck dropped in Game 3, the Red Wings spoke highly of their opponents time and time again and knew at some point that Crosby & Co. would regain their scoring touch.
Now, it's up to Detroit to make adjustments, which it will have plenty of time to do. The teams will practice for the next two days before the series resumes on Saturday night at Mellon Arena (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS, NHL Radio).
"We're not stupid. We knew we weren't going to keep them as a whole off the scoreboard for the entire series," Maltby said. "One of them was a power play. Full marks for their effort and what they did tonight. It's up to us to take it to the next level. We allowed them to play in our zone a little bit more than we did in the first two games. We knew it was going to be a tough series."
The question now is, have the Red Wings awoken a sleeping giant?
While Crosby's tallies were only the fifth and sixth of the postseason, his two points give the Pens' superstar 23 overall.
All it took was the lucky bounce to get the first one. After that, it can sometimes come in bunches. Crosby was one of Pittsburgh's best players in Game 2, recording six shots on goal in the 3-0 loss.
"It hit our D-man and went right through me," Osgood said. "He's got such quick hands, he just snapped it through me. To be honest, he's been good every game. Just because he gets no points, it doesn't mean he's not doing a lot of good things out there. He does everything. We've been fortunate to contain him as much as we have.
"They played well. I thought it was a really well-played game by both teams. When you play these games, somebody's got to win and lose. We were on the short end of the stick tonight."
Contact Brian Compton at: firstname.lastname@example.org.