After two: Wings-Pens 7-0

Osgood and “Big Four” shut down Crosby and Malkin

27.05.2008
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Nicklas Lidstrom (left) and Niklas Kronwall are a key reason why Detroit hasn't conceded a goal in the two first Stanley Cup final games. Foto: Jani Rajamaki

DETROIT – Detroit’s Swedes Niklas Kronwall, Mikael Samuelsson and Henrik Zetterberg are only two games away from joining the Triple Gold Club, the exclusive company for players who have won Olympic gold, the IIHF World Championship and the Stanley Cup. The Red Wings have a 2-0 lead in the final series, while Pittsburgh has yet to score a goal.  

Brad Stuart, Tomas Holmstrom and Valtteri Filppula scored the goals and Chris Osgood blanked the Pittsburgh Penguins for the second straight game, 3-0 on the heels of a 4-0 rout in the opener, as the Red Wings took a stranglehold on the championship series Monday night.

"I don't like bragging about myself very much," said the modest Osgood, who is looking more and more like a playoff MVP. "I've played some good games in my career and I feel pretty good about myself right now."

The all-time championship series record of home clubs winning the first two games is 30-1. The 1970-71 Chicago Blackhawks were the only team to blow a 2-0 lead built at home, losing to Montreal in seven games.

The series shifts to Pittsburgh for games on Wednesday and Saturday (8 p.m. ET). The Penguins are 8-0 at home in the playoffs, so maybe they'll get their act together at Mellon Arena.

They'll start Game 3 on their longest goal-less stretch all season - 135 minutes 57 seconds. 

A big reason why Pittsburgh’s usually potent scoring has not produced a single goal in 120 minutes is the Detroit 'big four' on defence; Niklas Kronwall, Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski and Brad Stuart. The Swedes Kronwall and Lidstrom average almost 30 shifts per game.

Detroit checking was smothering the Penguins, which managed just one shot through the first 10 minutes of the middle period. The Red Wings controlled play for such long stretches that it was a game of keepaway at times.

"Sometimes we get lulled into just standing around a bit, and they play well positionally," said Crosby. "When we're not at our best, we're just kind of playing a chess match with them. “
 
The Penguins tried to dump the puck behind Detroit defencemen and rush in but Nick Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, Niklas Kronwall and Stuart were quick to feed it up the ice to the forwards to thwart the Pittsburgh forechecking.

Nicklas Lidstrom is already among the group of 19 players that make up the Triple Gold Club, but Niklas Kronwall, Mikael Samuelsson and Henrik Zetterberg are only two games away from extending the membership to 22 players. The trio was among the eight Swedish players who won both the Olympics and the World Championship in 2006.

Pittsburgh hadn't been blanked two games in a row since February 2003.

"I know my players are frustrated right now," said Penguins coach Michel Therrien.

The Wings were bolstered in Game 2 by the return of Johan Franzen, who had 12 goals and 15 points in 11 games before headaches caused him to sit out the last seven. The Penguins got some added grit with Gary Roberts back in the lineup. Franzen had an immediate impact. He helped screen Marc-André Fleury when Stuart opened the scoring at 6:55 with a slap shot Fleury couldn't see. "Mule was out front creating havoc," Stuart said.

It was the defenceman's first goal this post-season.

"This is the time of year a team gets some unexpected goals, and that's the sign of a good team," said Stuart.

Detroit had an 11-6 shots edge in the second period.

Filppula made it 3-0 at 8:48 of the third with a dazzling display of stickhandling. The Finnish centre wove his way around defenceman Kris Letang and swept the puck past Fleury as he was being tripped to the ice.

A couple of minutes later, Roberts stuck a fist in Franzen's face, and France went down as if mortally wounded. He was fine. Roberts wasn't penalized and Franzen didn't miss a shift.

Petr Sykora threw a shoulder into Osgood and knocked him to the ice with just over a minute remaining. A 10-minute misconduct was assessed against Roberts after a lot of pushing and shoving.

Detroit had an 11-10 shots edge in the third, winding up ahead 34-22 at the end.

"(Osgood) knows he's not going to get a ton of rubber but the rubber he does get he's got to be there for," said coach Mike Babcock. "He's playing well, and our team is, too."

Red Wings fans in the Joe Louis Arena crowd of 20,000 left shouting their approval.

Notes:
  • Pittsburgh was 0-for-3 and Detroit 0-for-8 on power plays.
  • Crosby had five shots on Osgood, but Evgeni Malkin didn't get one. He hasn't had a shot on Osgood in the last five periods.
  • Pittsburgh had a 39-29 hits advantage.
  • First periods have been the Red Wings' best throughout the playoffs and they have now outscored opponents 25-8 in their 18 games.
  • Detroit improved to 12-1 when leading after first periods.
  • Detroit deleted Darren McCarty to make room for Franzen, who had scored 27 goals in 27 games - including 11 game-winners - before being told by doctors on May 10 that he needed to be free of the concussion-like symptoms that were bothering him.
  • Detroit's Chris Chelios sat out a third straight game as a healthy scratch.
  • Pittsburgh dropped Georges Laraque so Roberts could play. Roberts was a healthy scratch in Game 1 after getting over a bout of pneumonia.

With files from Canadian Press

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