Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood made his case for the playoff MVP award on Saturday, looking nothing short of spectacular in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals against the Penguins.
Or better, if that’s possible.
When asked to comment on Osgood’s performance, Red Wings center Kris Draper summed it up in one word: “Unbelievable.”
Osgood saved his best for the third period, with the Wings clinging to a 2-1 lead. But even on Pittsburgh’s two-man advantage midway through the period, he was unflappable.
Evgeni Malkin’s shot appeared to go over the goal line just as the final power play ended.
The goal judge was fooled. The whole crowd stood and cheered as the red light flashed for second.
But only a second.
Osgood wasn’t going to let the chance to possibly clinch his third Stanley Cup on home ice slip away.
“Not just on that 5-on-3, but throughout the whole game I thought he made some key saves,” captain Nicklas Lidstorm said. “He got the rebounds too. And on the 5-on-3, I thought he made two or three huge saves for us. He had point blank chances.
“We tried to be in the lanes, and take away the passing lanes as well. But it's tough when you're down a couple players, but he did a tremendous job for us, especially on the 5-on-3. But (he) really carried the game for us.”
The game? Some of his best work came in the second, before Jiri Hudler
scored the game-winner just over two minutes into the third.
Osgood made back-to-back-to-back saves on Sidney Crosby, Pascal Dupuis and Marian Hossa with just over six minutes left in the middle frame.
Sure, Osgood can’t get all the credit for the late kill or holding Pittsburgh to one goal. But he gets a lot — even from the opposing dressing room.
“They’ve had one of the best PK’s in the regular-season, so as much as you want to point fingers at our guys, they gotta give them credit for what they’re doing,” Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik said. “Osgood’s seeing the puck pretty well, and for the most part in the series, he makes saves on challenges, those guys do a great job of taking care of guys’ sticks and second chances.”
Since taking over for Dominik Hasek in Game 4 of the opening round against Nashville, Osgood has lost just three times.
No goofy goals. No crazy rebounds. No flashy saves.
Just the best goals-against average (1.45) and save percentage (.936) in the playoffs. And three shutouts.
How unearthly is his state of mind?
“It's fun playing against this team, because they skate well and it's end to end action,” Osgood said. “There's a lot of passing. There's not a lot of stoppages in play. So I enjoy it.”
Enjoy facing Crosby, Hossa, Malkin?
“I'm so focused on the puck itself sometimes I don't know who it is,” Osgood said.
That’s the Zen master talking. The game is slow, the game is easy.
Osgood watched former Red Wings goalie Mike Vernon parade around with not only the Stanley Cup, but also the Conn Smythe in 1997.
Don’t be surprised if this 35-year-old repeats the feat as early as Monday.