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Three Questions: Wings-Penguins

by Michael Caples / Detroit Red Wings
What was the biggest story of the night?

Pavel Datsyuk returned to the ice Saturday night, and he didn’t wait long to introduce himself to the Pittsburgh Penguins.  After missing seven games with a lower-body injury, Datsyuk jumpstarted the Wings’ offense in the first seven minutes.  Rushing up the ice, Datsyuk cut across the Penguins’ blue line, and found linemate Dan Cleary with a pass just inside the Pittsburgh zone.  Cleary rifled the puck past goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, giving the Wings the early lead.

Datsyuk looked like he hadn’t missed a single shift.  From his first shift, he was flying all over the ice, and he wasn’t tentative about throwing around the body.  Playing on the wing with Cleary and Henrik Zetterberg, Datsyuk skated for 17:38 (most of which in the first two periods), and made them count.  He recorded a second assist on Brian Rafalski’s goal that put the Wings up 4-0.  He finished plus-two, had two shots, and recorded four hits.  But I think the most telling sign that he was ready to go was in the first period, when he cut to the net and deked out two different Penguins.  That showed that he was able to put weight on both feet, was stickhandling well, and wasn’t afraid of getting hit – an important factor when coming back from an injury.

When did the Wings run away with this one?

The last two games have been won and lost in the second period.  In Game 4, the Penguins took control in the middle frame.  But in Game 5, the Wings had quite the second period of their own.  The Wings lit the lamp four times in the second, and seized control of the game at the same time.  Valtteri Filppula, Niklas Kronwall, Rafalski, and Zetterberg scored the four goals for the Wings.  It sent the Joe Louis Arena crowd into a frenzy, and it rattled the Penguins.  They took five penalties in the second period alone, and 12 throughout the contest.

The Red Wings picked a great time to get the power play rolling, as they took advantage of the Penguins’ mental mistakes.  The Wings scored three power-play goals in the second period, their last three goals of the night in the 5-0 win.  Two of the goals came from members of the blue line (Kronwall and Rafalski), and that’s because the Wings started firing from everywhere, and getting traffic in front of Fleury.  Fourteen of the Wings’ 29 shots came on the power play Saturday night.

Who were the Wings’ stars of the game?

As mentioned earlier, Datsyuk played an impressive game in his return.  But in any shutout, the credit needs to go to the goaltender.  Chris Osgood saw 22 shots, and he stopped 22 shots.  It doesn’t matter that the Wings built up a big lead for him – Osgood played a great Game 5.  What was key was that he was able to stay focused during the second period while the Wings dominated the play in the Penguins’ end.  If Osgood let in a soft goal during the middle frame, the Wings could have lost momentum, and that could have drastically changed Game 5.  Osgood’s second shutout of the postseason was his biggest win of the playoffs.

Outside of the crease, Zetterberg played yet another great game for the Wings, and he took home the night’s first star.  He scored a beautiful goal as a punctuation mark for the Wings’ win, taking a pass from Kronwall and rifling it to the top shelf from the slot.  He picked up another assist on Kronwall’s goal.  And he shut down Sidney Crosby once again.  Zetterberg responded to critics who said he was exhausted by skating for 20:55, recording two hits and three takeaways. 

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