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Penguins thrive in friendly confines

by Lindsey Ungar / Detroit Red Wings
PITTSBURGH — Back at Mellon Arena, and back in business.

All the Penguins needed were 17,132 fans drenched in white from head to toe, swinging towels overhead.

Who knew it could be that easy to get back in a series that seemed over two days ago?

“Every time you get a hit the fans go crazy,” said Penguins forward Adam Hall, who scored the game-winning goal. “And it just gives everyone on your team a boost. Every time you get a shot or goal, or every time the other team kinda trips up a little bit, the crowd’s going nuts for a penalty call. It definitely helps us, that’s for sure.”

The crowd stopped momentarily to breathe between chants of “Let’s Go Pens!” and “Gary, Gary!” for fan favorite Gary Roberts.

But only a moment.

They were busy getting up and down for standing ovations, including one that lasted almost an entire commercial break after Brooks Orpik had four hits in a single shift in the third period.

“They love it here,” defenseman Hal Gill said of the whiteout crowd. “They love the physical play. And that’s what they want to see from their team. We had some guys that stepped up. And that shift by Orpik was one of the best I’ve ever seen. That’s tough to do — to play at that level for that long. And he did. And they should be chanting his name.”

It all started after the miracle happened — Sidney Crosby scored the Penguins’ first goal of the series, ending goaltender Chris Osgood’s personal shutout streak of more than 155-minutes.

The arena erupted in a deafening sigh of relief.

“You’re like OK, now we gonna win,” Penguins forward Maxime Talbot said. “That’s what we were telling each other. You know we get one, we’re gonna roll out of that. And that’s what happened.”

The Pens fired five straight shots on Osgood to close the first.

Even the Penguins’ mascot, Iceberg, seemed pretty excited — during the first intermission the large stuffed penguin cartwheeled onto the ice.

Pittsburgh carried over that play to the middle frame when Crosby added his second of the night, eliciting more reaction from the crowd.

The Mellon faithful heckled Osgood with rhythmic chants of “Oz-zie! Oz-zie!”

And not the friendly kind Osgood receives at Joe Louis Arena. These were the drawn out, our-team-is-back-in-the-series type.

Johan Franzen’s goal at 14:48 of the second cut the Penguins’ lead in half. But the crowd didn’t falter. And neither did the Penguins, who went on to a 3-2 victory in Game 3. They haven’t lost at Mellon since Feb. 24, winning 17 straight contests.

“There was no panic with our club,” Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien said. “This has been three months we haven’t lost a game here.”

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