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Penguins' new lines produce same old result

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

(Playoff Coverage)



DETROIT (AP) -Four new lines, same old result for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

After recording only 19 shots in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals, the Penguins mustered just 22 Monday night in a 3-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings.

After starting each of their previous series 3-0, the Penguins suddenly find themselves down 0-2 and searching for ways just to get a goal.

"They're staying up at the blue line, and one guy is coming back hard," top-line forward Marian Hossa said. "It seems like they're everywhere. Usually we have the puck, but now we're chasing the puck. That is not our game."

Penguins coach Michel Therrien reacted to the 4-0 loss in Game 1 on Saturday but reinserting 42-year-old forward Gary Roberts and revamping his lines. He moved Ryan Malone alongside captain Sidney Crosby and Hossa, and dropped Pascal Dupuis to play with Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy.

None of it worked. Crosby and Co. still couldn't get free of Detroit's top line of Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom.

"It's really tough to generate offense against that team," Therrien said. "They're good on obstruction. It's going to be tough to generate any type of offense if the rules remain the same. It's the first time we're facing a team that the obstruction is there, and we're having a hard time skating when they take away ice."

The Penguins had six shots in the first period, none at even strength. They went 0-for-4 on the power play and failed to produce any shots with the advantage after the opening frame.

"Sometimes we do get lulled into just standing around a bit," Crosby said. "They play well positionally. When we're not at our best, I think we're just kind of playing a chess match with them. It's a game of mistakes, then. If we don't capitalize and they do, then we're in trouble."

Evgeni Malkin showed no signs of breaking out of his slump that seemingly came from nowhere. Flanked by wings Maxime Talbot, new to the line, and Petr Sykora, Malkin was pointless for the fourth time in six games and had no shots on goal.

Therrien called out Malkin before Game 2 and said he told the 21-year-old center he needed him to be a leader every night. Instead he disappeared again and has only one goal and an assist over his past six games.

"I thought his intention was there tonight," Therrien said. "We've got to keep supporting him, and eventually, players like this, usually they find ways."

The Penguins are in danger of having the series slip away if they can't find a way to get the puck from the Red Wings. Pittsburgh was down 2-0 before it registered a shot Monday.

"We've played a different team than we've played in the first three rounds," Sykora said. "It feels like there's nothing out there, so we have to find a way. We have to break out. We have to play 0-0.

"For us, the key is play the way they are. Try to get that first goal, that power-play goal, try to create ... get some ugly goal and then shut it down and play good defensively. That's exactly what they're doing. It's nothing special out there."

Heading home could be the tonic needed to make this a series. The Penguins are 8-0 in the playoffs at Mellon Arena and have won 16 straight there, dating to Feb. 24.

Therrien will surely take advantage of having the last line change and will work to get Crosby away from Zetterberg and Datsyuk.

"We're going back home to a place that we are tough to play against," Therrien said. "We're going to try to keep skating, and hopefully with the work ethic by moving our feet. I've always been a true believer, when you've got speed, you can usually generate more scoring chances or you're capable to generate penalties.

"We don't have the calls, and we're having a hard time generating scoring chances."

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