Friday June 5th, 2009

Here are the Three Stars from the Penguins' 4-2 victory in Game 4:

1. Evgeni Malkin, Penguins: If I could give all three stars to this guy, I think I would. He is just nonstop. He was a like a magnet -- that is, if magnets attracted little discs of rubber. When he had the puck on his stick he was making plays, whether poking in the first goal, another power play point for him, or making a sweet pass to Ruslan Fedotenko. Sure, he took a pretty bad penalty, but once he was released from the box, he immediately created a shorthanded breakaway. Or how about the fantastic play he made on Sidney Crosby's goal? With Detroit defenseman Jonathan Ericsson laid out to block his first cross-ice pass, he had the presence of mind to try again, finding a streaking Crosby perfectly for the go-ahead, game-winning goal.

2. Jordan Staal, Penguins: The author of the game-changer, Staal scored a shorthanded goal to tie the game, 2-2. Getting the puck from Max Talbot, who poked it free, the center took off through the middle, catching Red Wings defenseman Brian Rafalski a little flat-footed. Using his 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame, Staal worked it around Rafalski and got a shot past goalie Chris Osgood for his first goal -- his first point in fact -- of the series. "It certainly changed the complexion of the game," Pens coach Dan Bylsma said. Killing off the remainder of the penalty got the crowd back into it, and with Crosby's goal two minutes later, there was no looking back.

3. Marc-Andre Fleury, Penguins: In his finest game this series, the goalie made 37 saves, including 19 in the first period. He stopped three shots from Dan Cleary, who was banging at the doorstep midway through the first, and then controlled some dangerous rebounds in front of him. Despite earning criticism in the press about his uneven play through the first three games of the series, he showed up with the big saves, like the shoulder shrug denial in the second or the save on Valtteri Filppula with three minutes left in the game. "The times when he stood up for this team both at the end of the season and the playoffs is pretty significant," Bylsma said. "And again, our room is confident in him."

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