Red Wings grab 3-1 lead over Penguins with 2-1 win
PITTSBURGH – The Detroit Red Wings wrecked the Pittsburgh Penguins’ home-ice advantage and gave themselves a shot to hoist the Stanley Cup in Hockeytown.Jiri Hudler snapped a third-period tie for the Red Wings, who rallied from an early deficit to beat the Penguins 2-1 Saturday night and grab a 3-1 lead in the finals.Detroit will get the first of three potential chances to win the Cup back home in Game 5 on Monday night.The Penguins were a perfect 9-0 in the Igloo during the postseason and hadn’t lost at home since falling in a shootout to San Jose on Feb. 24 – a span of 17 games. Now they will have to figure out how to win at Joe Louis Arena to force the series back to Pittsburgh for Game 6.That’ll be a tough task indeed considering they couldn’t even score a goal in two games there to open the series.Six teams have survived long enough to reach Game 7 after trailing 3-1 in the finals, but only the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs – who fell behind 3-0 to the Red Wings – came all the way back to win.Pittsburgh would have to win twice in Motown, where the Red Wings are 9-1 during the postseason, to capture the Stanley Cup for the third time. Detroit is on the brink of title No. 11 and its fourth in 11 seasons.Hudler set up the Red Wings when he smacked in a backhander from the bottom of the right circle with his back to the net 2:26 into the third. Brooks Orpik’s clearing attempt from behind the net was kept in by Detroit defenseman Brad Stuart, who sent the bouncing puck back down low.Rookie center Darren Helm chipped it to Hudler, who snapped a drive off Marc-Andre Fleury’s left arm and inside the post for his fifth of the playoffs. That was enough to hand Fleury his first home loss in 19 home starts, dating to Nov. 21.Chris Osgood made 22 saves to improve to 13-3 in the postseason. He has allowed four goals in the series. Fleury stopped 28 shots.Pittsburgh had a golden chance to tie it just past the midway point of the third when Andreas Lilja’s interference penalty on Sidney Crosby gave the Penguins a 5-on-3 power play for 1:27. Crosby had the best scoring opportunity, but Selke Trophy finalist Henrik Zetterberg tied up the Penguins captain’s stick at the right post and didn’t allow him to get off a shot.With less than a minute left in the advantage, Penguins coach Michel Therrien called timeout to give his struggling power-play unit a rest. It didn’t help.Evgeni Malkin put a shot off the outside of the net, and the red goal light switched on – giving the home fans false hope.The night didn’t start out in the Red Wings’ favor, even though an octopus splattered in the Pittsburgh end near the completion of the national anthem. Dallas Drake took a roughing penalty that led to Marian Hossa’s power-play goal early in the first, before Nicklas Lidstrom tied it for the Red Wings 4:15 later.Back in the friendly confines of the Igloo, the Penguins scored for the fourth straight period on home ice after being shut out for two games. In an another encouraging sign from the rallying Penguins, they beat Osgood with a power-play goal.Sergei Gonchar let go a shot that Osgood stopped, but Hossa got to the rebound at the right post, deftly moved the puck from backhand-to-forehand and tucked it in at 2:51 on the Penguins’ second shot. Hossa’s 10th of the playoffs was Pittsburgh’s second goal in 12 power-play chances in the series.Detroit also has struggled on the advantage, coming in with two goals on 19 opportunities against the Penguins. The Red Wings clicked 2 seconds after Pascal Dupuis’ cross-checking penalty expired.The Penguins nearly escaped unscathed when Max Talbot made a good defensive play near the right point but couldn’t quite nudge the puck out of the zone. Detroit moved the puck back around, and Brian Ralfaski slid a pass left to defense partner Lidstrom, who after a slight backward curl ripped a drive that got by Fleury 7:06 into the first.The rants all week by Therrien regarding obstruction he felt was committed by the Red Wings might have been heard by officials, who handed Pittsburgh three first-period power plays. The last was a holding call against Kris Draper.Pittsburgh produced six of its nine shots – not including Hossa’s drive off the crossbar – in the period during power plays and allowed 14 shots to Detroit.The momentum off Pittsburgh’s 3-2 win in Game 3 continued in the Penguins’ direction before the opening faceoff when it was announced that Detroit top-line forward Tomas Holmstrom wouldn’t play due to a hamstring injury.Holmstrom, always a presence in front especially on the power play, was hurt Wednesday in Game 3 when he was knocked into the net by Pittsburgh defenseman Hal Gill.The good fortune didn’t last as the Penguins fell to 11-1 in the playoffs when scoring first.Notes: Darren McCarty, who hadn’t played since Game 1, took Holmstrom’s place in the lineup. … The Red Wings blocked nine shots in the first period, the same amount the Penguins got through to Osgood. … A moment of silence was held before the game for Vancouver D Luc Bourdon, who was killed Thursday in a motorcycle accident in Canada. … Malkin, an MVP finalist, has no points in the series.
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