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Aftermath: Penguins 4, Red Wings 2

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

  
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QUICK ANALYSIS
 
The Red Wings had a 2-1 lead in the second period and were working on overlapping penalties (3:58 total man-advantage minutes). A Detroit goal could have sucked the life out of the Penguins and given the Red Wings a 3-1 stranglehold in the series.

Things were looking bleak for Pittsburgh. But the entire atmosphere changed during a 5:37 span in that second period that flip the outcome in the critical Game 4, and maybe the entire series, in the Penguins favor.

The Penguins posted three goals in that time to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 advantage. Jordan Staal started the flurry with a shorthanded goal that tied the game and jumpstarted Pittsburgh. Sidney Crosby and Tyler Kennedy followed with goals of their own.

The Penguins shut down the Red Wings the rest of the way and the Stanley Cup Final heads back to Detroit all even. Pittsburgh climbed out of the 2-0 hole and turned this series into a best-of-three competition. Now, it’s a race to two and the opening gun will fire Saturday night in the Motor City.
 
WHAT HAPPENED
 
(AP) - Sidney Crosby scored his first goal in four games in the Stanley Cup finals to put Pittsburgh ahead midway through the second period, helping the Penguins beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-2 to even the series.
 
SHOT OF THE NIGHT

Sidney Crosby puts the Penguins ahead for good with a goal in the second period (photo by Getty)
ESSENTIALS
 
What Worked Well: Penalty Killing
Detroit boasted the NHL’s best power play in the regular season with a conversion rate of 25.2 percent. The Penguins penalty killing unit had a daunting task against them in the Stanley Cup Final. Pittsburgh had to kill two overlapping penalties in the second period with the Red Wings ahead, 2-1, and threatening to add to that lead. Not only did the Penguins kill off both penalties, Jordan Staal scored a shorthanded goal to catapult Pittsburgh to a 4-2 victory. The Penguins have allowed only one power-play goal to the Red Wings in the first four games of the Final.

What Could Have Gone Better: Faceoffs
The only weakness in an otherwise flawless performance by the Penguins was their work in the faceoff circle. Pittsburgh won 26 of 60 draws for a 43-percent clip. Despite the overall mark, the Penguins showed much progress in that area of their game as Maxime Talbot, Craig Adams, Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby finished 50-50 or better in the circle. 
 
DIFFERENCE MAKER
 
Jordan Staal scored the biggest goal of his young career with a shorthanded tally in the second period. He added an assist for a two-point game. He also had a plus-1 rating, four shots and 18:22 minutes of ice time.

The Penguins were trailing 2-1 with Detroit working on 3:58 minutes of a man-advantage. It appeared a deadly situation for Pittsburgh. But Staal skated into the Detroit zone one-on-one with Brian Rafalski. Staal used his body to protect the puck as he swooshed around Rafalski and then buried a shot between goalie Chris Osgood’s five-hole. The goal changed the game’s momentum in favor of Pittsburgh and sent this series back to Detroit all even at 2-2.

HONORABLE MENTION: Marc-Andre Fleury, who made 37 saves in the game. He stopped 18 shots in the first period, eight in the second and all 11 in the final period.
 
SCORING SYNOPSIS
 
The Penguins struck early with a power-play goal three minutes into the opening period. Evgeni Malkin grabbed the puck in the near corner and pushed it to Jordan Staal in the slot. Staal’s shot was stopped by Detroit goalie Chris Osgood. Kris Letang’s rebound shot went wide of the net but bounced off the backboards and to the side of the net. Malkin alertly slid a backhand shot across the goal line as Osgood scrambled to recover. Pittsburgh 1, Detroit 0.

Detroit tied the game with 1:41 left in the first period. Darren Helm intercepted a clearing attempt in the Penguins zone in the far circle. He roofed a shot through traffic that eluded goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. Pittsburgh 1, Detroit 1.

The Red Wings took the lead with a goal 46 seconds into the second period. Brad Stuart’s slap shot from above the near circle found its way through a screen and past Fleury. Pittsburgh 2, Detroit 1.

Pittsburgh evened the game on Jordan Staal’s shorthanded tally. Staal used his big body and long reach to shield the puck from Brian Rafalski. Staal swooped around the defender and sent a shot through Osgood’s five-hole. Pittsburgh 2, Detroit 2.

Just two minutes after tying the game, Pittsburgh regained the lead. Stuart tried to keep the puck in the Penguins zone at the far point. But Malkin blocked his attempt and took off up ice with Sidney Crosby for a two-on-one. Malkin tried to give the puck to Crosby but Jonathan Ericsson blocked the attempt. Malkin retrieved the puck and flipped it across to Crosby, who one-timed a shot into the netting. Pittsburgh 3, Detroit 2.

The Penguins added to their lead with a beautiful tic-tac-toe play. Chris Kunitz had the puck above the near circle and threw a cross-ice pass to Crosby in the far circle. Crosby one-timed a pass back across the ice to Tyler Kennedy no the opposite side of the goal. Kennedy easily re-directed the puck into the net. Pittsburgh 4, Detroit 2.
 
INTRIGUING NOTABLES
 
The Penguins used their same lineup from the previous two games with 12 forwards and six defensemen. The scratches were forwards Petr Sykora, Mike Zigomanis and Eric Godard and defensemen Philippe Boucher and Alex Goligoski. Kris Draper made his first appearance of the series for Detroit, but Pavel Datsyuk missed his seventh consecutive games with a bum foot.
 
GAME NOTES
 
> Pittsburgh evened the Stanley Cup Final series with Detroit, 2-2, and is 8-2 at Mellon Arena in this postseason.

> Head coach Dan Bylsma has a career postseason record of 14-7.

> Scoring Summary:
PIT, E.Malkin PP (14), 2:39 1st period: Penguins 1, Red Wings 0
DET, D.Helm (4), 18:19 1st period: Penguins 1, Red Wings 1
DET, B.Stuart (3), 0:46 2nd period: Red Wings 2, Penguins 1
PIT, J.Staal SH (3), 8:35 2nd period: Penguins 2, Red Wings 2
PIT, S.Crosby (15), 10:34 2nd period: Penguins 3, Red Wings 2
PIT, T.Kennedy (4), 14:12 2nd period: Penguins 4, Red Wings 2

> Evgeni Malkin, the NHL’s Art Ross champion, tallied a goal and an assist to add to his league-leading 35 points in the postseason (14G-21A). Malkin has 23 points (9G-14A) and eight multi-point games in his last 11 contests.

> Malkin's 35 points are the most scored in the postseason since Wayne Gretzky tallied 40 in 1993 with Los Angeles.

> Sidney Crosby notched a goal and an assist and has 31 postseason points (15G-16A). Crosby has a point in 17 of 21 playoff games.

> Marc-Andre Fleury made 37 saves in the victory, including 18 in the first period and stopped all 11 in the final period.

> Jordan Staal buried his first goal of the Cup Final on a shorthanded tally, and added an assist for a two-point night.

> Tyler Kennedy posted his first Cup Final goal.

> Mellon Arena sold out for the 117th straight game with a standing room only attendance of 17,132. The Penguins sold out every game in the past two seasons. Pittsburgh is 77-31-9 during that span.
 
THREE STARS QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
   
1. M.Fleury, PIT
2. S.Crosby, PIT
3. E.Malkin, PIT
We get the shorthanded goal and come back with Geno and Crosby, and
we get the go ahead goal. And I think the fans took over from there. The
fans drove us the rest of the way in the second period. And that
was a big momentum period for us and it set us up for the third.
- Dan Bylsma
 

 

Author: Sam Kasan

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