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Notes & Quotes: Power Play Perfection

by Deborah Francisco / Pittsburgh Penguins
Thoughts, observations and comments from the Penguins’ 4-2 Game 3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup Final.

The Penguins were 2 for 3 on the power play, an impressive feat against the Detroit Red Wings, who rarely take penalties - which is precisely why it was so vital for the Penguins to capitalize on the chances they get.

“Overall, on the power play we did a lot of good things,” defenseman Kris Letang said. “We put the puck at the net, we stayed at the net and we got two goals out of it.”

The Penguins two most vital goals, the game-tying goal and the game-winning goal, were both scored on the power play.

Letang capitalized on the first power play with a shot from the far circle to tie the game at 2-2 late in the first period.

“The defenseman was laying in front of me and he was almost touching the puck,” Letang said. “I didn’t know if I was going to skate back or take the one-timer, so I tried to block it and when I saw him down I had a lot of time to shoot it.”

“That second goal was huge by Letang on the power play to even us up,” Brooks Orpik said.

The game-winner came off of a shot that Sergei Gonchar rocketed from the high slot with the help of Bill Guerin, who served as a screen, halfway through the third period.

“Gonchar had a great shot there with a great screen,” Orpik said. “(Chris) Osgood has been seeing it pretty well all series, and that one I don’t think he saw at all.”

The Blueline Boys
Pittsburgh blueliners Sergei Gonchar and Kris Letang came through in a big way for the Penguins to help defeat the Red Wings.

Letang tallied both a goal and an assist in the game. He pounded in a pass from Evgeni Malkin on the power play to tie the game at 2-2 in the first period. It was his fourth goal of the playoffs. He has earned 12 points in the postseason so far.

“He was great, not only offensively but also defensively,” Gonchar said. “It seems like he is playing good all over the ice. He has all of the skills in the world and his shot is great, so offensively it is not surprising but the way he held them defensively, you can see the progress that he made from last year.”

What the Penguins received from veteran defenseman Sergei Gonchar is far more than the points he puts up, although his game-winning power-play tally in the third period was clutch. But his comeback-from-injury season serves as an inspiration to the squad.

“If you have the puck on someone’s stick shooting from 40 or 50 feet, you want it to be Sarge,” Rob Scuderi explained of Gonchar’s game-winning goal. “He seems to put it in the spot that he wants and he did it again for us.

“It’s about how much he means to us. He plays in all situations. Maybe after the injury the coaches are trying to watch his minutes a little bit, maybe not let him get too far up there but he really means a lot to our team. He is the quarter back of the power play and when it comes to special teams in the playoffs there is something you just cannot replace. He is a top notch guy for it and he’s been that way for the last 15 years in this league.”

Gonchar battled back from a shoulder injury that sidelined him for the first half of the season, but he returned in top form to transform the Penguins’ power play in time to qualify for the playoffs.

Then he suffered an ugly knee-on-knee collision in the semifinals with Washington’s Alex Ovechkin. Gonchar missed two games but returned in a gutsy performance in the decisive Game 7.

“It’s been a rollercoaster season for Gonchar,” Orpik added. “He battled so hard to get back from that injury that he had in training camp and then it was kind of a tough situation there in the Washington series. That was a time when it initially happened where we thought he was done for the season. Him coming back, that Game 7 in Washington was really uplifting for everybody.”

Fleury Proves Himself…Again
Fleury certainly proved himself, yet again. Fleury faced criticism from the media going into Game 3, weather or not he actually deserved it, but he proved them wrong with his spectacular performance against the Red Wings. He turned aside 27 shots in the game.

“Marc-Andre made a couple of key saves for us and we knew we had to pick it up to win this game,” Gonchar said.

Fleury did his part to keep the Penguins in the game, and in this series.
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