It’s too soon to say that this is the game of desperation as the series is knotted at twos. However, a win tonight will put either team a step closer to obtaining the Stanley Cup.
Pittsburgh 0 @ Detroit 5 – It certainly seems like both teams are only able to play well when they are at home. If that is the case, then it certainly looks like it’s going to be in the favour of the Red Wings should they reach game 7.
Why are the Wings on a sudden rebound? Could it be the return trip home? Could it be the return of Datsyuk? It certainly doesn’t matter as it seemed like everyone on the squad contributed something towards their explosive offense during the game.
Datsyuk finally makes his appearance during this game and he certainly didn’t disappoint despite the fact that he’s still not back in full form after his injury. Running at about 75% capacity, he still managed to produce 2 helpers. It certainly looks like he’s just fine. The Wings definitely benefited from his return in this game.
The Wings opened up the scoring in the first period when Dan Cleary takes a wrist shot past Fleury almost thirteen and half minutes into the game. Aside from this goal, it seemed like the two teams were evenly matched and the goalies were matching each other save for save.
The Penguins had a sudden breakdown in the second period. It started a minute and a half into the period when Filppula backhands a shot past Fleury to give the Wings a 2-0 lead. Osgood managed to snag an assist during that play. The Pens ran into penalty trouble, which all started with a slashing penalty on Sergei Gonchar early in the period. From that point on, the Pens penalty kill was 2 for 5 as Niklas Kronwall, Brian Rafalski and Henrik Zetterberg netted a goal each during powerplays. The Penguins spent most of the time attempting to play defense as they were outshot 15 to 6. The explosive stars like Malkin and Crosby were kept silent. In fact, they were part of the penalty trouble themselves as they both spent time in the box.
Fleury was pulled out of the game late in the second period and was replaced with Mathieu Garon. He didn’t make much of a difference despite stopping all eight shots he faced. The third period was rather quiet as each team recorded six shots each. The Red Wings effectively shut down the Pens. The brief but solid goaltending by Garon was a pointless effort as he had no offensive support from his teammates to back it up as they continued to run into penalty troubles in the third period.
The Penguins do not look like the same team that beat the Red Wings in for the past two games. The penalty kill was horrendous as Detroit scored 3 powerplay goals during the second period. Marc Andre Fleury only managed to stop 16 of 21 pucks. There were questions raised about Pittsburgh lack of defense prior to this series and this clearly demonstrates that it is no match for the offensive powerhouse like the Red Wings. The Pens could benefit from playing a more disciplined game. The penalty trouble they ran into during the second period pretty much cost them the game. It’s time for Dan Bylsma and his Pens to go back to the drawing board and work out something new if the teams wants any hope of staying alive in this series.
With the win, the Red Wings are one game closer to winning the cup. If the Penguins play the way they did last night, it holds a strong possibility that the Wings will ruin the party at the igloo for a second year in a row.
Detroit leads the series 3-2
Three Stars of the Night:
1. Pavel Datsyuk (Detroit)
2. Chris Osgood (Detroit)
3. Dan Cleary (Detroit)