The Bear Cave

June 7, 2009 9:28 AM

Red Wings Return Home with Rout

The first four games of the 2009 Stanley Cup Final were about as close as possible. Each of the games were decided by two goals, leaving the series even at two games a piece and the total goals tied at ten. With that being said, most fans were expecting an even tighter fifth game, as the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins returned to Joe Louis Arena on Saturday night. After skating out to a 1-0 lead in the first period, the Red Wings exploded for four goals in the second, thumping the Penguins 5-0 for a 3-2 series lead.

The first period got off to a relatively even start, as both sides were searching for something to give them an early edge. Pittsburgh received the first opportunity of the contest, when Niklas Kronwall was whistled for tripping at the 7:16 mark. The Red Wings were successful in killing the penalty, shifting the momentum slightly into their favor. The game stayed scoreless until just before the third and final media timeout of the period, when Detroit lit the lamp. Brian Rafalski started the breakout deep in his own zone with an outlet pass to Pavel Datsyuk in center ice. Datsyuk carried the puck forward, gliding to his right as he crossed the Penguins' blueline. He then handed off for Daniel Cleary, who was been guarded by Brooks Orpik. Using Orpik as a bit of a screen, Cleary surprised Marc-Andre Fleury with a snap shot, beating him glove side. Cleary had the lone tally of the opening stanza, despite seeing his team get outshot 10-8.

In the latter stages of the first, Chris Kunitz was given a minor penalty for goaltender interference. Although the Penguins were successful on the penalty kill, the offensive zone pressure and quick transition by Detroit ended up being too much to handle. Pittsburgh cleared the puck at the end of the power play, forcing Chris Osgood to play the puck behind his goal. Seeing both teams changing lines, Osgood alertly launched a pass up the right side of the ice to Marian Hossa at the offensive blueline. Hossa skated into the zone with the puck, before backhanding a centering pass to an oncoming Valtteri Filppula. After receiving the pass on his forehand, Filppula switched to the backhand, slipping a shot through Fleury. The penalty to Kunitz expired five seconds prior to the goal being scored.

At that point, discipline really became an issue for the visiting Penguins. Sergei Gonchar chopped Pavel Datsyuk's stick out of his hands, earning a trip to the penalty box for slashing. Gonchar's stay lasted for a mere 18 seconds, before the Red Wings added to their lead. Niklas Kronwall went back to pick up the puck in his own zone, before dashing up the middle of the ice. As he crossed the offensive blueline, Kronwall tapped a pass over to Johan Franzen on the right side. Franzen carried the puck deep in the zone, before returning the favor with a pass back to Kronwall beneath the goal line. Kronwall skated out of the corner, beating both Penguin defenders, and lifting a wrist shot over Fleury's glove.

Clearly, the lesson hadn't been learned yet for the Penguins, as Evgeni Malkin continued the parade to the box. Malkin put a high hit on Johan Franzen along the boards, picking up a minor penalty for elbowing. The Pittsburgh forward did have more of a chance to catch his breath than Gonchar, but the end result was the same. The Red Wings won an offensive zone face-off, with Nicklas Lidstrom leaving the puck off for Henrik Zetterberg on the left side. Zetterberg briefly looked around the zone, then snapped a pass over to Brian Rafalski at the right point. With Tomas Holmstrom making life extremely difficult on Fleury in front of the crease, Rafalski wristed home goal number four.

The game began to slow down for a few minutes in the middle part of the period, but with 6:10 remaining, another Pittsburgh penalty proved to be costly. Chris Kunitz and Darren Helm got into a battle in the Penguins' crease, with Kunitz going the extra step and receiving a roughing minor. It took some time for Detroit to connect, but with ten seconds left on the penalty, the home team cashed in. Mikael Samuelsson curled around in the left circle, passing back to Jiri Hudler at the left point. Hudler faked a slap shot, dishing a hard pass over to Henrik Zetterberg in the right circle. Zetterberg quickly got control of the pass, before popping Fleury's water bottle off with his 11th tally of the postseason.

The Red Wings' fifth goal of the game marked the end of the night for Marc-Andre Fleury in the Pittsburgh net. The 24-year old allowed five goals on 21 shots in 35:40, before being relieved by Mathieu Garon. Although Fleury probably could have done better, it certainly doesn't make life easy when his team runs into penalty trouble like it did.

Garon was put to the test immediately, as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were called for back-to-back penalties separated by just 20 seconds. The Penguins' backup came ready, standing tall and preventing what could have been an extremely lopsided period. Detroit did score four times during the middle frame, while outshooting Pittsburgh 15-6 to build a 5-0 lead on the scoreboard.

All things considered, the third period was a quiet one. The Red Wings kept the pressure on, while staying smart. The Penguins were more or less looking ahead to game six on home ice. Both teams fired six shots on net, giving Detroit a final advantage of 29-22. This means that the Red Wings become the first team in the series to win both the score and shots on goal in the same night.

Chris Osgood picked up the win and the shutout for Detroit, stopping all 22 shots he faced. Ten of those shots came during the first period, when the game was still very much up for grabs. To reiterate what was stated above, Marc-Andre Fleury suffered the loss, allowing five goals on 21 shots in 35:40. Mathieu Garon played well in relief of his starting goaltender, turning aside all eight shots directed his way.

The Detroit Red Wings now have a 3-2 series lead, with game six scheduled for 8:00 on Tuesday from Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh.

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