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Wings Brush Aside Injuries, Just Keep Winning

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers

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 Wings took a 2-0 series lead with their 3-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins Sunday night despite being 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.

The 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.

The final score of that game?

3-1.

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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.

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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 on 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," he 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 this weekend 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: 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 Pens' 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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