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The Bear Cave


June 3, 2009 8:53 AM

Talbot's Message Heard Loud and Clear in Pittsburgh

In the closing seconds of game two on Sunday in Detroit, Maxime Talbot sent a message that might have brought his team to life. The Pittsburgh forward put his stick into the chest protector of Chris Osgood, leading to a minor scrum in the Red Wings' defensive end. The main event of the scrum was a battle between Evgeni Malkin and Henrik Zetterberg. In the end, cooler heads prevailed, and the Red Wings skated off with their second consecutive victory on home ice.

On Tuesday night, the series shifted to Pittsburgh's Mellon Arena, and Talbot was once again the center of attention. This time, it was his offensive touch that got the job done. The 25-year old started the game by netting his fifth goal of the playoffs to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead. Over 54 minutes later, Talbot finished the night, sending his second goal of the game into a vacant Detroit net, capping a 4-2 win for the home team. The late exchange from Sunday may have also impacted Evgeni Malkin, as he dished out three helpers to lead the way in game three.

After losing the first two games of the series at Joe Louis Arena, the last thing the Penguins wanted to do was to get off on the wrong foot on their home ice. One of the aspects that plagued Pittsburgh on the road was turnovers. Oddly enough, a turnover by the Red Wings led to a change in fortune for the Penguins. Brad Stuart attempted to connect with Dan Cleary for an outlet pass, but Cleary fell and lost control of the puck to Kris Letang. Letang flipped a backhander into the left corner, finding Evgeni Malkin skating out toward the circle. Malkin kept the puck on his backhand, sliding a pass into the slot for Maxime Talbot. With the defense caught out of position and Chris Osgood trying to get situated, Talbot rifled a one-timer into the back of the cage for the game's opening goal.

As thrilling as it was for the home fans in Pittsburgh to see their team ahead, the Red Wings had an answer, erasing the early lead in a matter of 91 seconds. Ville Leino skated in on the left side of the offensive zone, swinging the puck around the boards for Johan Franzen at the top of the right circle. Franzen elected to reverse the play, returning the favor with a pass to Leino in behind the Penguins' net. Leino proceeded to wrap the puck around the cage, hoping to find a hole. Marc-Andre Fleury made the stop on Leino, but the rebound trickled out toward the right circle. Henrik Zetterberg gobbled up the loose puck, sneaking a shot between Fleury's stacked pads.

Things began to get worse for the Penguins a little more than three minutes later. Brooks Orpik was given a minor penalty for interference, putting the Red Wings on their first power play of the evening. After being blanked on four attempts with the man advantage at home, Detroit was able to convert on road opportunity number one. Henrik Zetterberg received a cross-ice pass, before skating to the top of the offensive zone, where he handed off for Niklas Kronwall at the left point. Kronwall was unable to find a good passing option, so he passed the puck back to Zetterberg on the left side. Searching around, Zetterberg spotted Johan Franzen on the right side of the crease. Matt Cooke managed to get his stick on the pass, but didn't get all of it, as Franzen deposited his 12th tally of the postseason.

Later in the period, Pittsburgh got revenge. Dan Cleary was the guilty party for the Red Wings, as he picked up a minor penalty for holding at the 14:46 mark of the opening stanza. 1:11 into the power play, the game was brought back to square one. Sergei Gonchar got the puck at the right point, tossing a pass low in the zone for Evgeni Malkin. Malkin stickhandled around in the right circle, before snapping a pass through the slot, trying to hook up with Kris Letang. A deflection by Johan Franzen caused a brief fumble by Letang, but the Penguins' defenseman was able to regain control in a timely manner. With a new life on his stick, Letang drilled a slap shot past Osgood.

After one exciting period, the score was knotted at two. Unfortunately for the host squad, the game began to shift toward Detroit in the middle frame, as the Red Wings held a 14-4 advantage in shots on goal during the following 20 minutes. However, Fleury was up to the task, turning aside all 14 attempts to keep the game tied.

Midway through the third period, the Penguins got the exact chance they were looking for. Jonathan Ericsson found himself in the penalty box for Detroit, as he had been whistled for interference with 10:54 remaining in regulation. The rookie defenseman was let free 37 seconds early, as Pittsburgh took the lead. Kris Letang sent a shot wide of the net, but Sidney Crosby kept the play alive by cycling the puck around the boards to Evgeni Malkin. Malkin curled into the right circle, before feeding a pass back to Sergei Gonchar at the point. With Crosby and Bill Guerin setting up in front of the crease, Gonchar let a slap shot go, beating Osgood high over the glove hand.

Pittsburgh began to take control from there, outshooting the Red Wings 10-3 in the final period of the contest. With 57 seconds remaining, Maxime Talbot put the icing on the cake for the home team, scoring an empty net goal from Ruslan Fedotenko for the 4-2 final.

For the third game in a row, the busier goaltender was the one that picked up the victory. In game three, that was Marc-Andre Fleury, who made 27 saves on 29 shots for the Penguins. Chris Osgood suffered the loss for Detroit, stopping 17 of the 20 shots he faced.

With Tuesday night's win, the Penguins have new life. The series is now 2-1 in favor of the Red Wings, but Pittsburgh will have a chance to even things up on Thursday. Game four takes place at Mellon Arena, with puck drop scheduled for 8:00.

Elsewhere in hockey on Tuesday, the Boston Bruins made noise by signing forward David Krejci to a multi-year extension. Although terms weren't disclosed by the Bruins, the Boston Globe is reporting a three-year deal worth a total of $11.25 million. Krejci and General Manager Peter Chiarelli will be participating in a conference call at some point on Wednesday to discuss the recent transaction.

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