The Bear Cave

June 1, 2009 7:17 AM

Red Wings Defend Home Ice, Taking 2-0 Lead to Pittsburgh

Prior to the start of the series, there were a lot of questions surrounding how the hurting Detroit Red Wings would handle having the first two games on consecutive nights. Well, a little more than 24 hours into the 2009 Stanley Cup Final, Detroit is the team with the 2-0 series lead. After a 3-1 victory to open the series, the Red Wings duplicated that feat on Sunday, receiving goals from Jonathan Ericsson, Valtteri Filppula, and Justin Abdelkader. For the second straight night, Detroit also got a stellar performance between the pipes, as Chris Osgood made 31 saves for his tenth postseason win on home ice this spring.

Once again, the beginning of the contest had a back-and-forth feel. The Red Wings came out looking to take command of the second game, but were held off of the scoreboard. After riding out that storm, Pittsburgh began to take over, and eventually, the visitors picked up the first goal. With 3:52 remaining in the opening stanza, Niklas Kronwall was given a minor penalty for cross checking, as he used both hands on his stick to send Maxime Talbot down to the ice. While on the man advantage, Sergei Gonchar faked a one-timer from the point, before dishing over to Evgeni Malkin at the top of the right circle. Malkin elected to take a one-timer, creating a mad scramble after the save by Chris Osgood. Numerous whacks were taken at the loose puck, before it ultimately trickled out to Malkin in the slot. The Penguins' leading scorer sent another shot into the pile, getting a helping hand from Detroit's Brad Stuart in the crease to light the lamp. Malkin's 13th of the playoffs gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes of play.

Already leading by one, the Penguins started the second period right where they left. In fact, Evgeni Malkin came a post away from putting his team up by a pair. That post served as a wake up call for Detroit. The ensuing shift was completely controlled by the Red Wings, and although they came up empty on the scoresheet, Pittsburgh was forced to ice the puck. In a similar situation in game one, Dan Bylsma elected to use his timeout to give his players a brief rest. After seeing Detroit score, Bylsma decided not to use the timeout on Sunday. Unfortunately for him, the Red Wings scored again in a matter of seconds. Darren Helm won the offensive zone face-off, with Jiri Hudler nudging the puck back to Jonathan Ericsson at the left point. Using Helm as a screen in front of the crease, Ericsson let a slap shot go, beating Marc-Andre Fleury low to the glove side.

With the help of the excitement from their home crowd, the Red Wings began to take control. At the 8:15 mark of the period, Evgeni Malkin was whistled for interference, putting Pittsburgh down by one man. Although the Penguins were successful in killing off the penalty, Detroit scored shortly after. Valtteri Filppula gloved down a Pittsburgh clearing attempt at the blueline, keeping the play alive to Marian Hossa along the left wing boards. Hossa threw a shot on goal that got denied by Fleury, but the rebound created another fierce battle in the low slot. Thanks to the work of Tomas Holmstrom, the puck eventually dribbled out to the right side for Filppula. As momentum drew him away, Filppula flipped a backhander over Fleury and just inside of the left post for the go-ahead goal.

Bill Guerin hit a post with under seven minutes remaining, and the Red Wings missed on a few glorious chances in the dying seconds, keeping the score at 2-1 heading into the third period.

The final period also began with some tremendous action, as Pittsburgh came inches away from tying the game. Sidney Crosby hit the same area of the pipe that Guerin did, before grabbing his own rebound and shooting it toward the net yet again. Henrik Zetterberg went down on all fours behind his netminder, keeping Crosby's second attempt out of the cage.

A goal by Guerin or Crosby would have been huge for the Penguins, as a similar twist unfolded about a minute later. Tomas Holmstrom sent a pass up the ice, connecting with Justin Abdelkader as he crossed the red line. Rather than dumping the puck deep with his teammates skating off for a line change, Abdelkader elected to keep possession, challenging the two Pittsburgh defenders. The Detroit forward nearly lost the puck when he cut to the middle, but managed to hang on, beating Fleury on his glove side with a knuckling shot. Abdeklader's second tally of the series came at the 2:47 mark of the third. Oddly enough, the Red Wings went ahead by that same 3-1 score one night earlier, at the 2:46 mark of the third period on another goal by Abdelkader.

The Penguins did get a few chances toward the end of regulation, but the real story came with 19 seconds left. Evgeni Malkin put a shot on goal that Osgood stopped and held. Maxime Talbot followed up Malkin's shot with a small spear on Osgood, sending the backstop onto his behind. This led to an unpleasant exchange between the two squads, with the highlight scrap featuring Malkin and Henrik Zetterberg. Clearly frustrated by his team's performance, Malkin let some shots go, earning 17 minutes in penalties. Although one of those penalties was a minor and a misconduct for instigating in the final five minutes, the NHL opted to rescind the automatic one-game suspension shortly after the game was over.

At that point the game was pretty much decided, with the Red Wings skating away on the right side of a 3-1 score for the second consecutive night.

Goaltending tends to be one of the major differences for teams that win the Stanley Cup, and Chris Osgood was spectacular for the second game in a row. Osgood stopped 31 of the 32 shots he faced during game two, giving him a total of 63 saves on 65 shots in the series. Marc-Andre Fleury came up on the short end, making 23 saves on 26 shots for Pittsburgh in the defeat.

The Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins have Monday off, before resuming the series on Tuesday in Pittsburgh. Although the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs and 1975 New York Islanders were able to win after trailing 3-0 in a series, the Penguins will likely need to win on Tuesday to have any hope of lifting the Stanley Cup this season.

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