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Wings still want to improve for Game 2

by Brian Compton

Despite their convincing 4-0 win in Game 1, the Red Wings still seek improvement. Watch Game 1 highlights | Buy Wings merchandise
DETROIT -- It's just one game.

Those three words have echoed throughout the Detroit Red Wings' dressing room since their convincing 4-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday night.

Certainly, the Pens will be looking to find ways to get more pucks to the net in Game 2, which takes place tonight at Joe Louis Arena (8 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS, NHL Radio). After a strong start in a scoreless first period on Saturday, Pittsburgh was held to just seven shots over the final 40 minutes.

Much of that had to with Detroit's ability to play a more disciplined style over the final two periods. After handing the Penguins four power plays in the first period, the Red Wings didn't have to kill another penalty until Nicklas Lidstrom went off for interference with just 4:33 remaining in regulation.

Nonetheless, Detroit is well aware that the high-flying Pens will do everything in their power to bounce back tonight.

"It's just one game," Lidstrom said. "We have to come back with a better effort (tonight). We know they're going to be better. They're going to come out even harder. We have to be prepared again."

Considering the fact that the teams didn't face each other during the regular season, most were under the impression that Detroit and Pittsburgh would wait for the other team to make a mistake. Instead, the Penguins came out hard and drew penalties early in the game. But Chris Osgood was up to the task on the penalty kill, and lowered his goals-against average to 1.48 with his second shutout of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"We're excited and we're happy with the way we played in Game 1," Red Wings forward Kirk Maltby said. "When you don't play a team through the whole course of the year, some players or teams might have taken more of a feeling-out process. We wanted to come out maybe a little better in the first period, but I thought we got it going late in the first and into the second. We definitely started playing our game. We're happy with Game 1, but now it's on to Game 2. We've got to treat it like it's a must-win."

Certainly, the Red Wings will need contributions from everyone once again if they hope to head to the Steel City with a 2-0 lead in this best-of-seven series. Mikael Samuelsson scored his first two goals since Game 4 against the Colorado Avalanche back in the second round. They were also the first two of Detroit's four tallies on Saturday night.

Once the Red Wings had the lead, they were not about to relinquish it. They completely dominated the Penguins on both ends of the ice, basically refusing Sidney Crosby & Co. access through the neutral zone. It was a testament to the type of two-way players Detroit possesses – which include Selke Trophy candidates Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.

"I think a lot is made out of our offense and what it can do, but at the same time, our offensive players can play as good defensively," Maltby said. "We're very fortunate that way. We just can't take it for granted. We know they're going to want to come out and try to get a win. They're going to come out with their best effort, it's important for us to at least try and match that."

The Red Wings didn't do that early and were forced to rely on Osgood to keep the game scoreless. They didn't really begin to relax until Samuelsson broke the scoreless tie on a pretty wraparound with 6:59 left in the second period.

"Once we got the first goal, we got four lines into it," Lidstrom said. "I think the team started to play a little bit better. We have to continue to play like we have. They're going to be a lot better tomorrow night. They're going to come after us even harder, and we have to play better. I think we can do a better job in our own end. They had some good chances and some good players, and we have to play close attention to those players in our own end. I think we can tighten up a little bit."

The best way to limit Pittsburgh's chances? Simple – keep out of the penalty box. Once the parade to the sin bin came to an end after the first period on Saturday, the Red Wings dominated the rest of the way.

"We have to play better and stick to our game plan for 60 minutes," Lidstrom said. "We have to stay out of the box. We can't take a ton of penalties because they have a very good power play."

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