The Penguins pounced all over four irregular giveaways by the Wings and scored on two of them in the second period, including a short-handed goal.
That’s all Pittsburgh needed in Game 4 to send the Stanley Cup finals back to Hockeytown tied at two games apiece.
Trailing 2-1, the Penguins got their comeback started, despite being a man down with Brooks Orpik serving a minor penalty for tripping. With Jordan Staal racing up center ice, Maxime Talbot made a perfect tape-to-tape pass to Staal who beat a Wings’ defenseman and skated in alone before bury a shot past Chris Osgood.
“Obviously we had the game going pretty good. The crowd was pretty quiet,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We were playing all right. Then our power play hurt us for sure, and sucked the life out of us.”
It was the first short-handed playoff goal allowed by the Wings since Game 6 of the Western Conference finals in 2007, a span of 41 playoff games.
Staal’s tying goal pumped life into the Penguins, who continued to play energized for the next several minutes. The swing in momentum was evident when Pittsburgh capitalized on another uncharacteristic mistake by the Wings.
Two minutes after they tied the score, Sidney Crosby, who had been held scoreless by the Wings in the previous three games of the series, send the sold-out crowd into a frenzy when he put Pittsburgh up for good.
After a Wings’ giveaway in their own zone, Evgeni Malkin and Crosby rushed up ice on a 2-on-1 break. Malkin made a beautiful cross-ice pass through the slot to Crosby, who re-directed the puck into the open side of the net.
“We didn’t execute the way we have to on the power play and we had some letdowns in that second period when they capitalized on some chances,” Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom
said. “When you give them odd-man rushes, they’re going to get some goals out of it.”
After Malkin gave the Pens a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal in the first period, the Wings scored the next two with Darren Helm
converting on a giveaway in the first period, and Brad Stuart
scored 46-seconds into the second.
In all four 2009 Stanley Cup games, the home team has been victorious. It is just the third time since 1978 when Montreal and Boston split the first four games of the finals by each team winning on home ice.
Babcock was involved in the last such series when he led the Ducks into the 2003 finals against the New Jersey Devils.