DETROIT (AP) - The Detroit Red Wings sure don't look tired now.
After watching their two-game lead in the Stanley Cup finals
disappear in Pittsburgh, the defending champions returned to the
friendly confines of Joe Louis Arena and blew away the supposedly
fresher Penguins 5-0 in Game 5 on Saturday night.
The veteran-laden Red Wings lead the series 3-2 and they moved
within one win of their 12th Stanley Cup title and fifth in 12
seasons. Detroit can wrap this one up Tuesday night in Pittsburgh,
but the home team is 5-0 in the rematch of last year's finals.
Pavel Datsyuk made his mark in his first appearance in eight
games, notching two assists, drawing a key penalty, and knocking
leading scorer Evgeni Malkin to the ice. The Red Wings made the
Penguins pay for a lack of discipline by going 3 for 9 on the power
play in front of a crowd that celebrated most of the night.
Chris Osgood, on the verge of his fourth Stanley Cup
championship - third as the Red Wings starting goalie - made 22
saves for his 15th playoff shutout. He earned an assist on Valtteri
Filppula's goal for his fifth career playoff point, and improved to
11-4 in the finals. Osgood has two shutouts in this year's
Detroit held a 29-22 shots advantage, the first time the home
team had the edge.
This series looked firmly in the Red Wings' control after they
opened with a pair of 3-1 victories, but the Penguins seized
momentum with two 4-2 wins that made Detroit appear a bit worn out.
With the first five games played in eight nights, the hectic
schedule seemed to catch up with the Red Wings. Now the
playoff-tested veterans can enjoy two days off before Game 6. There
will be another two-day break should the Penguins force a Game 7
back in Detroit on Friday.
History suggests the Red Wings will hoist the Cup again as 14 of
the 19 previous teams to win Game 5 in a series tied 2-2 have
Pittsburgh won Game 5 in the Motor City last year in triple
overtime to force the series to six games, but then was eliminated
at home. The Penguins are 1-5 in Detroit in the past two finals,
and captain Sidney Crosby failed to score a goal in all six games.
The Red Wings broke the game open with four goals in the second
period against beleaguered Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who
left after making only 16 saves on 21 shots. It wasn't the bouncy
end boards that did him in this time, as they tormented him in the
first two games of the series, but rather a suddenly potent
power-play by the Red Wings.
Filppula started the barrage 1:44 into the second period when he
made it 2-0 just 5 seconds after Chris Kunitz served a penalty for
interfering with Osgood. That was the only even-strength goal of
Niklas Kronwall pushed the lead to three goals at 6:11, 18
seconds into Sergei Gonchar's slashing penalty on Datsyuk. Fellow
defenseman Brian Rafalski made it 4-0 at 8:26, and Henrik
Zetterberg - last year's playoff MVP - closed the spurt at 15:40.
That chased Fleury to the bench in favor of backup Mathieu
Garon, who made his first playoff appearance since 2004.
Datsyuk, who had been sidelined since injuring his foot in Game
2 of the Western Conference finals, wasted little time in making
his presence felt. First, he knocked Malkin hard off the puck
behind the net and then made the final pass to set up Dan Cleary's
goal in the first period.
Datsyuk and Cleary rushed into the Pittsburgh end with Gonchar
and Brooks Orpik back on defense. Datsyuk slid a right-to-left pass
to Cleary, who wound up from a few feet above the right circle and
zipped a shot that sailed between Orpik's legs and past a screened
Fleury at 13:32.
Cleary scored his seventh goal in 11 games, but he hadn't
registered a point in the finals.
Chants of Datsyuk's name filled the arena, replaced by calls of
"We Want the Cup" as the final minutes ticked down, and others
The first period didn't have a stoppage after the opening
faceoff until Kronwall went off for tripping at 7:16. The
fast-faced frame turned decidedly in the Red Wings' favor when they
killed off the penalty without allowing a shot.
Pittsburgh had converted on four of nine power-play chances
against the Red Wing's much-maligned penalty-killers in the first
four games of the series.
Detroit's power play was 1-for-10 before its big night.
Notes: Detroit is 11-1 at home in the playoffs. ... Malkin, who
leads with 35 playoff points, took three of Pittsburgh's nine minor
penalties. ... Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom played in his 233
NHL postseason game, tying former D Scott Stevens for fifth place
on the career list. Current Detroit D Chris Chelios, who hasn't
played in this series, leads with 266. ... The Red Wings haven't
lost three straight in regulation since March 27-April 2. ...
Pittsburgh was 0-for-2 on the power play.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)