Reducing the number of goals they allow is a major focus of the Penguins’ efforts to get back into the Stanley Cup playoffs. After two games, they’ve allowed only two goals – a dramatic improvement over last season.
But Saturday night, those two goals were enough to give the Detroit RedWings a 2-0 victory before 15,318 fans at Mellon Arena, as Dominik Hasek made 13 saves for his second career shutout against the Penguins. It was the 69th shutout of his NHL career.
Johan Franzen had the game’s first goal early in the first period and Kris Draper added the other with 1:21 left for Detroit (1-1-0), which rebounded from a 3-1 home loss to Vancouver Thursday. The Penguins, who opened the season with a 4-0 home victory over Philadelphia Thursday, are off until Thursday when the travel to New York to face the Rangers.
Franzen’s first goal of the season came at 6:00 of the first. Pavel Datsyuk won a faceoff in the left circle and got the puck to Niklas Lidstrom, who fed Jason Williams for a shot. Franzen fought off Rob Scuderi in front to jam the rebound past Marc-Andre Fleury
, who made 24 saves on the night.
Colby Armstrong nearly tied the game 10:13 when he took a pretty drop pass from Sidney Crosby and fired off a quick shot that Hasek stopped. Armstrong, however, got his own rebound at the bottom of the left circle and, with Hasek scrambling to get back, missed the net with a backhander.
The Penguins’ power play, 0-for-4 against the Flyers Thursday, missed on its third chance of the night early in the second when Detroit was called for too many men on the ice for the second time in the game. Pittsburgh failed to get a shot on the power play and had just seven shots on Hasek at the halfway point of the game.
Coach Michel Therrien reacted by shuffling his lines later in the second period, dropping Nils Ekman off the Sidney Crosby line and replacing him with Mark Recchi. Ekman, moved down to play with Ryan Malone and John Leclair, nearly tied the game at 18:23 when his shot from the right circle caught the post behind Hasek.
Pittsburgh managed only one shot on the power play after Niklas Lidstrom went off for hooking at 4:04 of the third period, and moments later Fleury made a solid stop on former Penguin Mikael Samuelsson just to keep it a 1-0 game.
Midway through the third period, the Penguins did their best forechecking of the night, led by the line of Dominic Moore, Jarkko Ruutu and Michel Ouellet. The top line picked up right where Moore’s line left off and produced a good scoring chance when Crosby fed Josef Melichar cutting down
the slot. Melichar got off a late shot, and it went wide of the net.
Crosby, who only once last season was held without a shot, didn’t get one Saturday until Hasek stopped his backhander just past the midway point of the third period.
Draper put the game away at 18:39 of the third when he took a pass from former Penguin Robert Lang and fired a shot over Fleury’s right shoulder.