If you believe that a team is not in trouble in a series until it loses a game at home, then the Pittsburgh Penguins are in fine shape heading back to Mellon Arena for Game 6 Tuesday night.
That, obviously, is not the case -- considering the Penguins are down 3-2 in the Stanley Cup Final and coming off a 5-0 shellacking by the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday night.
The good news for Pittsburgh fans is their team has been resilient since Dan Bylsma took over as coach in mid-February, so there is no reason to believe the Penguins can't be again back on their home ice, where they've already beaten the Red Wings twice in this series.
"We have two days here to regroup and refocus, and we will," Bylsma said. "They got the third game. They're one ahead of us, and we've got to go home and use that energy of that home crowd to our advantage."
The building will no doubt be buzzing, but the Penguins need to be better in every area. It would help if their best players were their best players again.Marc-Andre Fleury
, who was sensational in Games 3 and 4, was pulled after Henrik Zetterberg made it 5-0 with 4:20 to play in the second period. He gave up five goals on 21 shots before Mathieu Garon mopped up.
"We'll tell (Fleury) to keep his head up," Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "They got a lot of quality chances close and out front. He's played well for us. You go into the playoffs you're going to have one of these games."
Crosby and Evgeni Malkin
can ill-afford to have another one like they did Saturday, when they combined for two shots and eight needless penalty minutes. They were also limited because the Penguins were shorthanded for nearly a quarter of the game.
"Penalties really hurt us," forward Bill Guerin said. "It disrupts the flow of our game."
Which is why the Penguins must keep their composure in Game 6, something they couldn't do Saturday after the Red Wings took a 3-0 lead.
Malkin rode his elbow up on Johan Franzen and Brian Rafalski scored on the power play to make it 4-0. Less than six minutes later, Chris Kunitz
roughed up Darren Helm and Henrik Zetterberg scored on the power play to it 5-0.
Crosby took a two-handed whack at Zetterberg's legs and got a slashing penalty. Maxime Talbot slashed Pavel Datsyuk 20 seconds later. Pittsburgh capped the night with 36 penalty minutes in the third period, including three 10-minute misconducts.
"It's 5-0 and that's typical," Crosby said of the rash of penalties. "I thought in the third we tried to keep things together and generate some chances, but that's frustrating. Playoff games you expect it to be intense and tight games, but they get a string like that and there is nobody that is not going to be frustrated by that."
Frustration penalties won't be a factor in Game 6 if the Penguins capitalize on whatever chances the Wings give them. That was another problem Saturday.
Pittsburgh got off to a flying start and Niklas Kronwall was called for tripping Kunitz 7:16 into the game. But the Penguins didn't register one shot against a Detroit penalty kill that has struggled all season long and was downright dreadful in Games 3 and 4.
"They were aggressive, got pucks down the ice and forced us to go back several times, which is what you do on a good penalty kill," Bylsma said. "They certainly gained momentum from the kill and the crowd at that point."
Dan Cleary scored the first goal and the Wings added four in the second, turning the game into a blowout and forcing the Penguins to unravel. If it happens again, the Red Wings will parade the Cup around the Mellon Arena ice for the second straight year.Contact Dan Rosen at email@example.com
Author: Dan Rosen | NHL.com Staff Writer