At least no one can blame the springy boards tonight.
The Detroit Red Wings beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals (
That's not to suggest the Pens are out of it. After all, it's not a series until someone loses at home, and this team already has come from a 2-0 deficit against Washington in Round 2. But taking four of five from a Detroit team that's won seven of eight seems like an onerous task.
If they hope to get back into it, their fortunes rely on a remarkable turnaround from goalie
The final goal, a wobbling slapper from the top of the circle, was a real killer. It might not have taken the starch out of the Penguins, but it did quash any real hope of a late rally.
"I thought we got a good break when [Abdelkader] scored tonight," Detroit coach
Yeah, a lot different. Just like it would have been different if the unflappable Osgood hadn't denied
Abdelkader's goal, his second in as many nights, also highlighted another problem area for the Pens. Their depth simply can't match up with Detroit's bottom six in terms of skill, effort or results. That places extra pressure on Crosby and Malkin to deliver the goods. And while Babcock noted that both players have been engaged since the drop of the puck in Game 1, neither has delivered the sort of dominating performance that the Pens need from them in order to steal at least one in Detroit.
Credit the Wings for that. Their five-man approach to defending the duo ensured both were consistently shepherded to the outside where they were stripped of possession or forced to settle for an option with little potential. Neither player was given the time or space to do much damage five-on-five until Crosby generated a few stellar chances during a third-period surge.
That said, it was a better game for the captain, particularly in the face-off circle where he went 10-of-15 after a disastrous performance in Game 1. One of those wins came on Pittsburgh's only power-play attempt of the night, and allowed the Pens to do something they failed to do on two chances in the opener -- set up in Detroit's zone and prod their defense for holes. After controlling the puck for 42 seconds, they finally found one in the midst of a mad scramble that ended when
Malkin was given credit for the goal, his second point of the series, but his frustration with the tight checking was apparent all night. He took a retaliatory penalty against Ericsson in the second then instigated a fight with
At least he'll have a chance to redeem himself in Game 3. The NHL issued a statement after the contest saying that Malkin would not be automatically suspended for the incident. "Suspensions are applied under this rule when a team attempts to send a message in the last five minutes by having a player instigate a fight," league disciplinarian
While the league won't go to the whip, you wonder when Pittsburgh coach
Bylsma also opened himself up for criticism by choosing not to take his timeout while nursing a 1-0 lead early in the second.
It was a nearly identical situation to one that arose late in the second period of Game 1 when an icing call left an exhausted quintet of Pens on the ice for a defensive zone draw. Bylsma called the timeout in that case and though Detroit scored on the ensuing shift it was a logical move to buy his players some rest. Bylsma said as much after the game, and stated he would make the same decision again.
Well, maybe not. With the Pens sucking wind after a 100-second shift spent deep in their zone,
Last season, the Penguins were down 2-0 against the Red Wings in the finals and were unable to reel them back in. The games are closer this season, but the result is the same as the Wings rely on tried and true methods to win. With their season on the line, Pittsburgh might want to try a few themselves.