Pens' wounded warrior delivers
PITTSBURGH -- In their pivotal game of their playoffs, the Pittsburgh Penguins won the battle of wounded knee.
You probably know somebody like
Gonchar was the victim of a knee-on-knee drive-by courtesy of
"I'm getting there," Gonchar said is his usual whisper when asked post-game about his knee. "I still do my treatments and I obviously take care of it, and it's better and better with every day."
At last it's better and better in Pittsburgh after the 4-2 win in Game 3
"It's been a rollercoaster season for him," defenseman
If he didn't score his first goal post-wounded knee at 10:29 of the third, the Penguins would have been done, more or less, for the season.
But rewind the clock by 83 seconds. At the faceoff following an interference penalty on Detroit defenseman
Crosby, who would win 12 of 19 faceoffs, was extracting a degree of revenge for Game 1, when he went 6-for-20 and 5-of-16 against Zetterberg, including just one of eight on draws in the offensive zone. He later would suggest that simply playing in Pittsburgh explained the disparity -- the home-team center puts his stick in second -- but the calculating Crosby's ability to adapt to Zetterberg's favorite moves was at least as responsible. He was being way too modest.
"Those (faceoff wins) are huge, especially against those guys," Orpik said. "I know on the second power play you could tell we just backed them off because they were so tired. I don't know the guys" -- for the record, they were Zetterberg,
"We couldn't get the puck out," Zetterberg said "We ended up being in there almost 90 seconds, you get tired."
Because of sheer fatigue, the Red Wings penalty killers didn't challenge the points, which allowed Gonchar to tee up his winning shot. (Malkin had his third assist of the game on the play, Crosby his first point of the series.) After allowing two goals on three chances, Detroit had killed just 45 of 63 power plays in the playoffs. A 71.4 percentage is lousy for an NBA free throw shooter. For a theoretically elite NHL penalty-killing unit, it is a disaster.
"On the second power play goal, to me they worked real hard," Red Wings coach
Indeed. Sometimes a shrug is the proper response. This time it was Detroit's
No bigger than Gonchar's will and goal.