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Special teams make difference in Game 3

by Christy Hammond / Detroit Red Wings
PITTSBURGH -- The Penguins continued their success on the power play with two markers coming on the man-advantage in Game 3.

Including Pittsburgh’s power-play tally on its lone opportunity in Game 2, the Penguins have successfully converted on three of their past four chances.

Pittsburgh’s two power-play goals Tuesday night came at critical times.

“In the playoffs we’ve had a chance to get on that track, and when you can get two power-play goals in a key game like this – it was a great thing to have,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.

Defenseman Kris Letang scored at 15:57 in the first period with the man-advantage to even the game up at 2-2. Midway through the final frame, defenseman Sergei Gonchar took a shot from the point and, with the help of a screen down low, scored to snap the tie. The marker ultimately stood as the game-winner.

“I don’t think [Chris] Osgood saw my shot until the last minute and it was a great effort from everybody to control the puck,” Gonchar said.

Bylsma credited the team’s success on the power play with their ability to win puck battles on Tuesday night.

“The power play was an unbelievable job by a handful of guys out there, winning puck battles,” he said. “Keeping that thing alive for a long period of time, and giving Gonch a chance to rip that one home.”

Detroit went 1-for-2 on the power play thanks to a goal from forward Johan Franzen. Unfortunately the penalty kill struggled, allowing two goals on three penalty kills.

The Red Wings have struggled on the penalty kill this postseason. After killing off all seven Columbus power-play attempts in Games 1 and 2 of the first round, the Red Wings had allowed at least one power-play tally in 13 consecutive games setting an NHL record. The streak was eventually halted in Game 5 against Chicago, but the team’s penalty kill was a determining factor in Tuesday’s loss.

“It was a power play game,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “They got three and we got two. You know, that’s the facts.”

It appeared like the tide had turned in Detroit’s favor as they outshot Pittsburgh 14-4 in the middle frame alone. Pittsburgh tried to regroup heading into the second intermission with the game still tied at two goals apiece.

Veteran Bill forward Guerin knew that it would be a close, competitive game so he wasn’t surprised that the game was still even after 40 minutes of play.

“It was more of a chess match tonight,” he said. “I thought both teams stayed within their game plan so well and it was going to come down to one shot and it did.”

Coach Bylsma told his team to settle down during the second intermission and the team did just that, outshooting Detroit 9-3 in the third period.

“We just wanted to stay composed,” Guerin said. “We knew what was at stake going into the third and we knew we just had to keep our heads on straight and focus out there and play the game.”

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