DETROIT (AP) - The Stanley Cup finals opener was full of
Pittsburgh superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were
slowed down and the Detroit Red Wings scored some fortunate goals.
Johan Franzen scored the go-ahead goal late in the second period
and Chris Osgood made 31 saves, helping the defending champion Red
Wings beat the Penguins 3-1 on Saturday night in Game 1.
Franzen and Brad Stuart had goals that went off Pittsburgh
goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, whose sat on a shot that trickled in for
Detroit's series-clinching goal last year.
"We're going to have to get goals like that," Red Wings coach
Mike Babcock said. "I don't think there are going to be a whole
lot of skill plays."
Crosby, though, didn't have such luck when his third-period shot
went off Osgood, a post and landed in the middle of the goalie's
back as lay on the ice.
Detroit rookie Justin Abdelkader scored his first playoff goal
early in the third, providing a cushion.
Game 2 is Sunday night in Detroit.
"It's a race to four, and they got one," Pittsburgh coach Dan
The NHL and its TV partners likely were happy with how the first
Stanley Cup finals rematch in a quarter-century got started.
The action, especially in the first period, matched the hype.
"When you've been here before, you know what to expect so
you're ready to start on time," Babcock said.
End-to-end action, big hits such as Crosby's left shoulder
sending Henrik Zetterberg to the ice, scoring opportunities and a
1-1 score had to hold nontraditional viewers giving hockey a
Detroit's first goal of the series brought back memories of its
last Cup-clinching goal.
Stuart simply dumped the puck behind Fleury and was rewarded
with a fortunate carom that sent the puck off Fleury's right skate
and across the goal line with 6:22 left in the first period.
"They got some fortunate breaks," Bylsma said.
In Game 6 last year in Pittsburgh, the goal that ended up being
the difference was pushed in when Fleury squatted on the puck.
The Penguins didn't need good fortune to tie Saturday's game.
Malkin baited Stuart into trying to clear a puck off the boards
and took advantage of the turnover with a slap shot that Osgood
couldn't control, leading to Ruslan Fedotenko's backhander off the
Pittsburgh had a breakaway and two power plays in the first half
of the second period, and had nothing to show for it.
Osgood got part of his glove on Malkin's wrist shot on the
breakaway, and Detroit's penalty killers limited the Penguins to
two shots on their first play and none on their second.
"The goalie is the most important player every night," Babcock
said. "It's hockey."
Osgood had to make a pair of saves two-thirds of the way through
the second, denying Miroslav Satan on a shot just outside of the
crease after Malkin set him up beautifully and turning away
Crosby's backhander after a spectacular spin move.
Moments later, the Red Wings went on the power play for the
first time and Fleury came through for Pittsburgh.
Brian Rafalski's blast was smothered by Fleury with a thud
despite Tomas Holmstrom standing right in front of the goalie to
obscure his vision.
Detroit went ahead 2-1 in the final minute, scoring again off
the boards and Fleury.
Rafalski shot bounced off the boards, Franzen got to the loose
puck and flipped a backhander over and off Fleury and into the net.
It was Franzen's his team-leading 11th goal of the playoffs and
24th score in the postseason since the start of last year's Stanley
Notes: Detroit was without Pavel Datsyuk, an MVP finalist along
with Malkin, a fellow Russian, because of a foot injury, and Kris
Draper, but welcomed the return of defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom and
Jonathan Ericsson. ... Fleury finished with 27 saves.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)