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Red Wings, Penguins split regular-season games

by Rocky Bonanno / Detroit Red Wings
For the first time since 1984, there will be a Stanley Cup rematch. And the Penguins would love to see history repeat itself. In 1983, the veteran New York Islanders dispatched the young and brash Edmonton Oilers in four games. One year later, the Oilers got their revenge by ousting the Isles in five games.

Detroit and Pittsburgh split their two-game regular season series, each winning on the road, but in vastly different fashion. The Penguins needed overtime to win a high-scoring affair, while the Red Wings shut down the potent Pittsburgh attack with a shutout. Detroit outscored and outshot the Penguins 9-7 and 63-59, respectively, in the two contests. Most of the scoring occurred in the third period, where both teams each scored four goals. Detroit outscored Pittsburgh 2-1 and 3-1 in the first and second periods, respectively.

Pittsburgh's Jordan Staal was the unlikely leading scorer of the series with four points -- three coming on goals -- thanks to one monster game. He also posted a series-high plus-3 rating. Teammate Sidney Crosby totaled a goal and three points, and Evgeni Malkin and Maxime Talbot each added a goal and an assist. Marc-Andre Fleury played both games in goal and stopped 54 of 63 shots for a 4.40 goals-against average and a .857 save percentage.

Pavel Datsyuk paced the Detroit offensive with three goals. Marian Hossa and Jiri Hudler had a goal and two assists each, and defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom totaled three assists. Goaltender Ty Conklin recorded a 25-save shutout, while Chris Osgood suffered the overtime loss, stopping 27 of 34 shots for a 6.58 goals-against average and a .794 save percentage.

The Red Wings went 4-for-8 on the power play and allowed only one goal on nine penalty kills. Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and Tomas Holmstrom scored Detroit's man-advantage goals, and Malkin had Pittsburgh's lone power-play goal.

The 2008 Cup finals was the only previous time Detroit and Pittsburgh met in the postseason. The Red Wings outscored Pittsburgh 17-10 to win the series in six games.

Here is how these teams fared during their 2008-09 regular season matchups.

NOV. 11:
Pittsburgh 7 at Detroit 6 (OT)

Adding spice to the Stanley Cup rematch was the fact that Hossa, Pittsburgh's leading scorer in the 2008 Final, defected to the Red Wings as a free agent in the off-season and was facing his former teammates for the first time.

Detroit led by scores of 3-1 and 4-2 through two periods, but the Penguins rallied to outscore the Red Wings 4-2 in the third period, three of the goals coming from Staal. He was especially clutch in scoring the last two goals in the final 4:09. Staal entered the game with only two scores in 14 games.

Staal completed his memorable game by assisting on Ruslan Fedotenko's goal at 3:49 of overtime. Staal lifted Datsyuk's stick from behind, snagging the puck away and set up Fedotenko's one-timer with a perfect pass to the right circle.

"We have a lot of talent on this team and we have good heart," Staal said.

Hossa had two assists and a minus-2 rating, taking five shots in 19:33 of ice time. "After the puck dropped for the first faceoff, I didn't even think about it," Hossa said of facing his former teammates. "I just tried to focus on my game."

Darren McCarty, Holmstrom, Franzen, Zetterberg, Hudler (1-2-3) and Datsyuk scored for Detroit.

"I thought it was going to be over when Hudler scored," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said of the goal that gave his team a 6-4 lead with less than 10 minutes remaining in the third period. "Then we self-destructed."

Crosby (1-2-3), Talbot (1-1-2) and Malkin (1-1-2) scored the first three goals for the Penguins.

"All of a sudden they started skating, got the 5-on-3 goal and we couldn't stop them," Hossa said. "We have to learn from it, but it's early in the season. We have to turn the page and get ready for the next game."

FEB. 8: Detroit 3 at Pittsburgh 0

"These are great hockey fans, and they show you their emotions. Once or twice in your career you've got these games, so basically you try to enjoy it because this doesn't happen often. You try to use their energy to your advantage."
-- Marian Hossa on his first time back in Pittsburgh since joining the Red Wings

Hossa did not receive a warm welcome from the 17,132 fans at Mellon Arena, who booed every time he touched the puck and chanted "Traitor!"

But Hossa persevered to score his 30th goal of the season, sandwiched around two goals from Datsyuk, while Conklin was perfect in net.

"These are great hockey fans, and they show you their emotions," Hossa said of the Pittsburgh faithful. "Once or twice in your career you've got these games, so basically you try to enjoy it because this doesn't happen often. You try to use their energy to your advantage."

"I guess we expected them to boo him a little bit but, man, that was vicious at times," said Conklin, who also played for the Penguins in 2007-08 and signed as a free agent with Detroit in the off-season.

Hossa turned down an estimated $49 million, long-term deal with Pittsburgh to sign a one-year contract with Detroit because he felt it was his best option to win a Stanley Cup.

"Lots of people think it could be a gamble, but it was my feeling at the time to decide to come here and it's worked out so far," Hossa said. "It's been great."

Contact Rocky Bonanno at

Author: Rocky Bonanno | Staff Writer

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