The déjà vu Stanley Cup final is now a must-see.
After the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins followed the exact script of their 2008 series -- two Detroit wins to open, a Penguins home ice win to follow -- the near summer rerun finished Thursday at Mellon Arena, replaced by a two-and-a-half-hour spectacular (with a second period for the ages) that was wildly entertaining and raucous. Playing for the fourth time in six nights, a hellish pace for midseason let alone the NHL's showcase event, the Penguins broke the old pattern and seemingly left the Red Wings' legendary poise in tatters with a 4-2 win.
There were obvious imperfections in the match that tied the series -- the Red Wings were uncharacteristically generous in turning pucks over and
And while Fleury (37 saves) was brilliant, the match truly belonged to the three centers.
But Malkin was merely revving his engine. After taking a ludicrous hooking penalty five feet from Red Wings goalie
In the final seconds of that period, Malkin grabbed a
• Crosby. Although his level of competitiveness never has flagged, the Pittsburgh captain's goal breakthrough was welcome -- if for no other reason than now he won't have to answer any more questions about it. He leads the playoffs with 15 goals because he pays the price, this time from teammate
There will be an infusion of energy -- and maybe Datsyuk -- when the Red Wings return home for the Game 5, but Staal's shorthanded goal looks like it might have been the moment that turned an intriguing series into something truly memorable. Certainly, Bylsma said, "it changed the complexion of the game."
In any case, there now are two or maybe three games left in a final that now is really percolating. And from the looks of it, the Penguins currently lead this series, two games to two.