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Aftermath: Red Wings 3, Penguins 1

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

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The Penguins and Red Wings played a pretty even contest in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, but Detroit was able to convert on a few lucky bounces off of the backboards to win the game, 3-1, and take an early lead in the series.

The game was a back-and-forth affair as both teams traded hits, shots, scoring chances, momentum swings and each squad dominated the play at times. Pittsburgh outshot and out-chanced the Wings in the second and third periods but just couldn’t get the puck into the goal. There were a lot of good things that the Penguins can take away from this game and build on as the series continues.

Pittsburgh will have to quickly put this setback behind them and get ready for Game 2, which is less than 24 hours away. The Penguins have been a resilient team all season. They’ll try to tap into that magic Sunday night and try to leave Detroit with the series even at 1-1.
DETROIT (AP) -The Stanley Cup finals opener was full of flashbacks.

Pittsburgh superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were slowed down and the Detroit Red Wings scored some fortunate goals.

Johan Franzen scored the go-ahead goal late in the second period and Chris Osgood made 31 saves, helping the defending champion Red Wings beat the Penguins 3-1 on Saturday night in Game 1.

Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Evgeni Malkin go hard to the net during Game 1 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals.  (Photo via Getty Images)
What Worked Well: Aggressive Neutral Zone Play
In a little strategy tweak, the Penguins defensemen stepped up on the Red Wings in the neutral zone, forcing Detroit to either re-route their attack line or dump the puck in. The nuance limited the Red Wings odd-man rush opportunities.

What Could Have Gone Better: The Backboards
The Red Wings used a few fortunate bounces off the backboards to convert their first two goals. The Joe Louis Arena boards are the most lively in the league. Detroit used their hometown advantage and familiarity with the boards to tally two fluky scores on Pittsburgh. 
Evgeni Malkin assisted on the Penguins’ lone goal after making a great play to intercept a clearing attempt by Brad Stuart. Malkin also picked the puck off of a Red Wing to give himself a breakaway opportunity. He finished the game with four shots, four hits and 23:14 minutes of ice time.
Penguins zone at the near blue line. He threw a shot off the backboards that trickled into the crease, off of Marc-Andre Fleury and across the goal line. Detroit 1, Pittsburgh 0.

The Penguins tied the game with a late first-period goal. Evgeni Malkin intercepted Stuart’s clearing attempt off of the boards in the Detroit zone. Malkin then ripped a slap shot from above the far circle that Chris Osgood stopped, but the puck rested in front of the Detroit netminder. Ruslan Fedotenko swooped in behind the Detroit defense, pulled the puck away from Osgood’s outstretched glove and pushed a backhander across the goal line. Pittsburgh 1, Detroit 1.

The Red Wings regained the lead with less than a minute remaining in the second period. Pittsburgh had been trapped in its own zone for an extended period and the players were obviously winded. Brian Rafalski’s slap shot was deflected wide of the net but came hard off the backboards. Johan Franzen grabbed the puck and threw it off of the leg of a sprawling Fleury and into the net. Detroit 2, Pittsburgh 1.

The Red Wings added to their lead with a goal two minutes into the third period. Justin Abdelkader took a shot from the left side of the goal. The puck hit Fleury and popped into the air. Abdelkader grabbed it and lifted a shot into the top far corner. Detroit 3, Pittsburgh 1.
The Penguins dressed seven defensemen and 11 forwards for the eighth consecutive game. The scratches were forwards Petr Sykora, Pascal Dupuis and Eric Godard and defenseman Alex Goligoski.

The contest was pretty chippy considering it was the first game of the series. There were a lot of heavy hits and post-whistle scrums between the two squads. And it should only get nastier as the series progresses.
> Pittsburgh trails the Stanley Cup Final to Detroit, 1-0, and is 6-4 on the road in this postseason.

> Head coach Dan Bylsma has a career postseason record of 13-5.

> Scoring Summary:
DET, B.Stuart (2), 13:38 1st period: Red Wings 1, Penguins 0
PIT, R.Fedotenko (7), 18:37 1st period: Penguins 1, Red Wings 1
DET, J.Franzen (11), 19:02 2nd period: Red Wings 2, Penguins 1
DET, J.Abdelkader (1), 2:46 3rd period: Red Wings 3, Penguins 1

> Sidney Crosby was held scoreless but still has 28 postseason points (14G-14A). Crosby has 22 points (12G-10A) in his last 13 games and has a point in 15 of 18 playoff games.

> Evgeni Malkin, the NHL’s Art Ross champion, tallied an assist to add to his league-leading 29 points in the postseason (12G-17A). Malkin has 17 points (7G-10A) and six multi-point games in his last eight contests.

> Marc-Andre Fleury made 27 saves in the game.

> Ruslan Fedotenko scored a goal for the third straight game.

> Former Penguin, Red Wing and Blackhawk goalie Hank Bassen past away Friday afternoon from a heart attack. The Penguins would like to extend our thoughts and prayers to the Bassen family.
1. C.Osgood, DET
2. E.Malkin, PIT
3. D.Helm, DET
“We believe in our game. It didn’t go the way we wanted it to tonight.
We’re confident that we can get one here (before we) go home.”
- Sidney Crosby


Author: Sam Kasan

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