by Tony on 06/05/09 at 01:55 AM ET
OK, now we’ve got ourselves a series.
The Penguins got three goals in a 5:37 timespan in the second period from forwards that were certainly due in Jordan Staal, Sidney Crosby and Tyler Kennedy to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 lead, and rode the shoulders of Marc-Andre Fleury to preserve the victory and a tied Stanley Cup series at two games apiece.
Fleury stopped 37 of 39 Detroit shots, including several stops in a hectic third period as the Wings attempted to cut into the lead. For a weird stat, the team that has outshot their opponent in each of the first four games of the series has gone on to lose.
The Penguins got on the board first early in the game on the powerplay when Evgeni Malkin grabbed a rebound of a Kris Letang wrister off the boards and backhanded it past Chris Osgood to make it 1-0 Penguins at the 2:39 mark of the first period.
The Wings were throwing pucks at Fleury early and often with 19 shots on goal in the first period. Up untl late in the period, Fleury had held the Wings off. But that changed when Rob Scuderi made a huge error attempting to make an outlet pass that was intercepted by Darren Helm. Helm was able to steal the puck and fire a wrister that beat Fleury to the short side to tie the game at 1-1 with only 1:41 remaining in the period.
They continued the momentum of the Helm goal early into the second period when Brad Stuart fired a seemingly harmless slapper from the right point, but Fleury was completely shielded by Bill Guerin and couldn’t stop the puck to give the Wings a 2-1 lead at the :46 mark of the second.
The Wings were, once again, controlling the play with the lead in the second period. To make matters worse, the Pens were taking lazy penalties, including back-to-back penalties on Malkin and Brooks Orpik. However, during the second penalty, Staal took a pass from Max Talbot and split Wings’ defensemen Nick Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski. He then made a great power move around Rafalski and went backhand/forehand to beat Osgood for the huge short-handed goal and tied the game at 2-2. It was the Penguins’ first short-handed goal in the Cup finals since Bob Errey in 1992.
That woke up the crowd and the Penguins took full advantage of the momentum. Malkin blocked Stuart’s pass along the left-hand boards to start a 2-on-1 break with Crosby. Malkin’s initial pass attempt was blocked by a sprawling Jonathan Ericsson, but Malkin was able to make another pass to Crosby for the tap-in goal to give the Pens the lead again at 3-2. If the crowd was loud before, it was really roaring after Crosby’s goal.
But the Penguins weren’t done. A hustling Tyler Kennedy was able to knock the puck away from Henrik Zetterberg in the Wings’ zone. Chris Kunitz gathered the loose puck and quickly passed to Crosby, who made the cross-ice pass back to Kennedy for the beautiful tic-tic-toe goal and a 4-2 lead.
The third period consisted of a constant Wings barrage, the Pens clearing the puck, and timely stops by Fleury. The Wings came close on several occasions in the third period, but none of the eleven shots on goal eluded Fleury as the Penguins got the win and a tie in the series.
- Once again, no Pavel Datsyuk. I’m curious to see how effective he’s going to be if/when he actually is able to play.
- Remember that shorty by Staal.
- The Wings looked awful tired tonight. The Pens were getting to the majority of loose pucks, and it just didn’t seem like the Wings had the legs.
- Great job by the Pens’ penalty kill, going 4 for 4. Of course, that includes Staal’s shorty, but the Wings also only got seven shots on goal during those four powerplays. The Pens’ powerplay went 1 for 3, and it appeared they did a better job of getting the puck into the Wings’ zone.
- 15 blocked shots by the Pens tonight, including three by both Scuderi and Orpik.
- Malkin actually tied for the Pens leader in hits tonight with Orpik with 5.
- Crosby was a team-high +2.
- A rare low-light tonight: Staal won only 2 of 15 faceoffs. Crosby was an even 10 for 20.
So now they head back to Detroit again, this time all knotted up at two games apiece. Obviously, an absolutely huge Game Five on Saturday night, where a Penguins win gives them the opportunity to win the Cup in Game Six back at the Igloo.
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