Penguins Even Up Series With Red Wings

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

PITTSBURGH -- The Stanley Cup finals won't be a duplicate of last year's, and a momentum-swinging period by the Pittsburgh Penguins put in doubt whether there will be a repeat champion.

Tyler Kennedy also scored and Marc-Andre Fleury, with his second successive excellent game, made 37 saves.

Until Game 4, the finals followed the same pattern as last year's: Detroit won the first two at home, then dropped Game 3 in Pittsburgh. But the Red Wings couldn't follow up their 2-1 road victory in Game 4 of last year, one decided largely when they killed off a lengthy Pittsburgh 5-on-3 advantage, and now these finals are the best-of-three.

Game 5 is Saturday night in Detroit, with Game 6 in Pittsburgh on Tuesday after the series' first two-day break.

The Red Wings were done in by a bad second period and dreadful special teams. Pittsburgh has converted on 4 of 9 power plays, and this game swung when the Penguins got a goal -- and the Red Wings didn't -- during 3:59 of continuous Detroit power-play time.

With Detroit up 2-1 following goals by Darren Helm and Brad Stuart less than 3 minutes apart to end the first and start the second, Staal -- who had only two goals in 20 playoff games -- got loose after Max Talbot's up-ice pass.

Staal used his lengthy stride to thread two defenders and beat Chris Osgood at 8:35 of the second. Staal had a record-tying seven short-handed goals as an 18-year-old rookie in 2006-07, but had only one since.

Staal's goal instantly changed a major opportunity by Detroit to seize control not only of the game but the series, into a tie game, and the 17,132 jammed into a suddenly rocking Mellon Arena sensed how big the play might be. And they were right.

The Penguins finished off killing the second power play and, less than a minute later, Crosby and Malkin -- their signature stars -- worked a 2-on-1 rush for Crosby's 15th of the playoffs and 30th point. With 35 points, Malkin has more than any player since Gretzky had 40 in 1993.

Kennedy, a Staal linemate who had no goals in five games, finished it off with Pittsburgh's third goal in a span of 5:37 by scoring off two quick passes by Crosby and Chris Kunitz.

On the Detroit bench, a sour-faced Mike Babcock had the look of a coach wondering if four games in six nights for his tiring Red Wings might have favored the younger Penguins. All four Pittsburgh goals came from players who are 22 or younger.

Before Pittsburgh scored eight goals in two games at home, Osgood had allowed a goal or less in eight of 18 playoff games.

The Penguins know a 2-0 deficit doesn't mean certain defeat, although only one of 32 teams has won the finals after losing the first two on the road. They rallied to beat the Capitals two rounds ago after losing the first two in Washington, and they've pointed to that comeback as reason for hope they could pull off this comeback.

The Red Wings had a letdown a few minutes before the start when Hart Trophy finalist Pavel Datsyuk, out for six games with an injured foot, skated in the pregame warmups but decided he couldn't play. The Wings were optimistic the day before he might play, with Datsyuk joking he had was eager to return because he was drinking too much beer while sitting out.

Then, with only 1:12 gone, the Red Wings did what Babcock said they couldn't do with an ailing penalty kill by taking take an unnecessary penalty. Niklas Kronwall tripped Evgeni Malkin, and Malkin took advantage by scoring with only 2:39 gone, with Staal assisting.

Malkin is trying to become the first player since the Penguins' Mario Lemieux in 1992 to lead the NHL in regular season and playoff scoring.

Detroit tied it with 1:41 left in the period. Darren Helm stole Rob Scuderi's pass out of the corner and beat Fleury inside the far post from the right faceoff circle dot.


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