After all the hype and excitement surrounding the start of this series, both teams finally met in Detroit for the first game of a best of seven series. The first period ended in a scoreless tie, but from the second period on it all swayed in favor of Detroit.
A post hit and some close calls is all the action the Pittsburgh offense saw around an infallible Chris Osgood. If age was ever considered in the equation in the Battle of the Netminders, then worry not Detroit; Ozzie played like a 20-year-old out there Saturday night.
Pittsburgh had four power-play opportunities in the first period, a chance revered close to that of divine intervention. Amazingly (or skillfully), Detroit pecked away at any and all Pittsburgh chances to keep them scoreless with the man advantage and just as scoreless in even strength situations.
For allowing four goals to hit the mesh, Fleury didn't look half bad in net. All things considered, two of the goals were genuinely as a result of his own doing. The remaining two came from an exhausted defensive core and an overall lack of aggression in the face of the Game 1 loss.
From the second period on Pittsburgh was unable to get anything going offensively. Michel Therrien juggled the lines to his best capabilities but ultimately faced the paradox of "you can't force something that isn't there." It wasn't there tonight, and unless the Penguins can complete a one-eighty heading into Game 2 it won't be there Sunday night either.
Pittsburgh's twelve first period shots was more than just evidence to Detroit that they came to play, it was further proof that they could get to Osgood and make it all happen. However the first period would be the only period in which the Pens would top even five shots, as both the second and the third saw the Penguins combine for only 7.
Detroit no doubt takes the pivotal Game 1 in this series, but they also did more than just outplay and outscore the young Pens squad; they shook them up. Confidence is key when playing on the road, even more so in a playoff setting. Pitt's best bet heading into Game 2 is to put this one entirely and completely behind them, hope for the split and head home to Pittsburgh for the relief of playing on home-ice.
Back in Mellon Arena the Penguins' faithful filled close to 12,000 seats (netting close to $60,000 for the Mario Lemieux Foundation) to share in the excitement of watching Game 1 on the jumbotron. Unfortunately for the fans, that excitement will have to carry over to Game 2.
Until then Detroit remains in an early 1-0 series lead and Pittsburgh remains on the hunt for answers.