The sweep? Not happening. A series again? Absolutely. Should you be surprised? Absolutely not.
In front of an emotionally charged crowd at Mellon Arena, the Pittsburgh Penguins dug deep and fought back to earn a 4-2 win in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals. With the loss, the Detroit Red Wings have now lost 3 out of 4 Game 3's in the 2009 playoffs.
Both teams knew that establishing offense early on would be the key to Game 3, and it would be the Penguins who struck first, when Maxime Talbot scored from the high slot just 4:48 into the first period, staking the Pens to an early 1-0 lead. It wouldn't take long for the Wings to answer back, as Henrik Zetterberg would tie the game just over a minute later, slipping a rebound through the five-hole of Marc-Andre Fleury. The Wings looked poised to take control of the game only minutes later, when Zetterberg fed a cross-ice pass to Johan Franzen, who fired home a shot to give the Wings a 2-1 lead on the power play. But momentum would swing back to the Pens late in the third, when Kris Letang would capitalize with his own power play goal, beating Chris Osgood between his legs.
The Wings would come out slinging in the second period, amassing 14 shots to the four of Pittsburgh. But Fleury was up to the test, turning away 13 of the shots, and receiving some help from the right post on a Mikael Samuelsson attempt.
But in an eerily reminiscent fashion to Game 2, the Wings would be out-shot by the Pens in the third period by a total of 10-3. This time however, the Pens would capitalize as Sergei Gonchar used a Bill Guerin screen to beat Osgood to the glove side, giving the Pens a 3-2 lead that they wouldn't relinquish. Talbot would add an empty netter to round out the scoring.
This was destined to be a tough one from the get-go, and the Wings were completely aware of that. The Pens came out with a ton of fire, but the Wings did a nice job of weathering the storm and keeping themselves in the game. Mike Babcock had said he wanted to play a "simpler" game in Pittsburgh, but it looked as if the Wings were a bit hesitant at times, despite out-shooting the Penguins in the second period.
It's true that there were some questionable calls/non-calls during the game, but the Wings should have been ready for that, and been able to step up and respond. The PK haunted them again tonight, as the Pens capitalized on two power play opportunities. And for the second straight game, the Wings were completely dominated in shots in the third period, a trend that must be stopped if the Wings want to head back to Detroit with a 3-1 series lead on Thursday night.
Chris' Red Wing of the Game
Hank got his tonight with a goal and an assist, but it wasn't enough to get the Wings on the doorstep of their 12th Stanley Cup.
#40 / Left Wing / Detroit Red Wings
Oct 09, 1980
Game 4 is Thursday night back at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh. The puck drops at 8:00 PM and the game can be seen on Versus and CBC.