For two games on the road the Pittsburgh Penguins felt relatively good about how they played against the Detroit Red Wings. They only scored one goal per game, but they largely liked the shots they got, the chances they generated and they way the played.
In this game, both teams could be proud of the way they played. Detroit worked for their chances, Pittsburgh got some of their own. The Red Wings largely controlled the puck for stretches of the game. But at the end the Pens got more of 'em in the net then Detroit did.
- Evgeni Malkin continues to flex his muscles with three primary assists. Geno was an impact player all over the ice and he sprawled to block a shot in the final minute that shows the commitment the entire team has to winning.
- As the title aludes to, you can't knock the hustle of Maxime Talbot. Talbot opened the scoring less than five minutes in on a one-timer from Malkin. Then with just a few minutes left Talbot burst into the zone and threw a shot that beat Chris Osgood but it rang post. Not to be denied, Talbot forced a turnover later in the shift and got another shot.
- So it's only fitting that Max Talbot scored the empty net goal to seal the game....In a game the Penguins desperately needed to keep their season off life support their biggest "hustle" and "heart and soul" player came through. That's big league stuff that legends are made of.
- Out of sequence from this recap were the two power-play goals that two defensemen scored. First Kris Letang corralled a Malkin pass and slapped in by Osgood (screened by his own defenseman) to tie the game at two. That goal sent the game tied after the first period, badly needed for team pysche. In the third, with the game still tied 2 a piece, Sergei Gonchar wired a puck to the back of the net (with Bill Guerin in front).
- Detroit didn't back down and applied the pressue, as champions do. It took a total team effort by Pittsburgh to keep the game in hand.
- And Marc-Andre Fleury did his part. Stopped 27 of 29 shots and the ones that got by him again showed some unfortunate luck--Gonchar tried to clear the puck but it ended up on Henrik Zetterberg's stick. Wrong guy in the wrong place, you know that's ending up in the net. Then in the dying seconds of a first period power-play Zetterberg threw a cross-ice pass that glanced off of Hal Gill's stick and ended up getting to Johan Franzen. Franzen snapped a shot that just got inside the far post. Crazy bounces and luck, but you have to credit Detroit for making their luck count by finishing.
So that is that, we're at 2-1 in a race to four. As I highlighted earlier today, a team that loses the first 2 games on the road are really in trouble because they go on to drop one of their home games. Detroit will be hungry for a Game 4, and expect guys like Kris Draper and Hart nominee Pavel Datsyuk to be back in the lineup too. One game is a nice win, but it's still one game. Plenty of work to go, but you can't win the series if you don't win the first one. Big hurdle out of the way tonight.
13 wins down, 3 wins to go.