DETROIT -- The Penguins like a lot of the things they did when they played here last weekend.
The way they were physical and aggressive and played smart in the neutral zone.
None of that translated into a victory, but it did give the Penguins reason for optimism about their chances of beating Detroit in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final at Joe Louis Arena tonight at 8:15
"We did a lot of things well," defenseman Hal Gill said yesterday.
"We'd like to get more chances, bury more shots, but the biggest thing we want to do is to spend more time in their end. We have to make sure we get [in] there, but we also have to sustain pressure. We did that the last two games, and that's been a big help for us."
The Red Wings won Games 1 and 2 last weekend, but the Penguins countered with victories in Games 3 and 4 at Mellon Arena.
The series effectively has become a best-of-three, with Detroit having the advantage of two of the remaining games being scheduled for its building. Not that the Penguins seem terribly concerned about that.
"If you want to win a Cup, you need to win at least one game on the road," defenseman Kris Letang said. "If it's Game 5, it's Game 5. If it's Game 7, it's Game 7."
Sidney Crosby has 15 goals in these playoffs, four shy of the postseason record shared by Reggie Leach and Jari Kurri
Not surprisingly, though, he is not caught up in such an individual accomplishment.
"I just want to bury my chances, and, if I'm in that position, that's great," he said.
"It means I am contributing. But I don't give a whole lot of thought to it. I just want to make sure I take advantage of chances when I get them. That's always a challenge, especially against this team. If it works out, then great."
Although the Penguins had a pretty healthy turnout for their optional practice at Mellon Arena yesterday, Gill was the only big-minutes regular to skate.
Seeing him on the ice was a bit of a surprise, because he and his defense partner, Rob Scuderi, have routinely played against the opposition's top lines during these playoffs, which is pretty draining.
Overall, Gill is averaging 19 minutes and 30 seconds of ice time, with a demanding 2:29 of that being shorthanded work. Only Scuderi, averaging 2:43, has played more when the Penguins are down a man. Nonetheless, Gill decided to get in about 20 minutes of on-ice work, albeit not at a particularly high tempo.
"I didn't really 'give 'er' out there, so to speak," he said. "More just to float around."
Chris Kunitz, who has one goal in 21 playoff games, seemed ready to ring up No. 2 when he had a shot at an empty net with about 90 seconds left in Game 4, but Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall hooked him.
That forced Kunitz to try to toss the puck into the net with only his left hand on the stick, and his shot wobbled wide of the left post. Kronwall was assessed a hooking minor, but the Penguins argued that Kunitz should have been awarded a goal under Rule 57.4.
It says that, "If, when the opposing goalkeeper has been removed from the ice, a player in control of the puck in the neutral or attacking zone is tripped or otherwise fouled with no opposition between him and the opposing goal, thus preventing a reasonable scoring opportunity, the Referee shall immediately stop play and award a goal to the attacking team."
Kunitz, however, did not care to make an issue of it.
About 500 tickets for Game 6, which will be played Tuesday night at Mellon Arena, will go on sale Monday at 10 a.m. at the usual outlets. ... Coach Dan Bylsma, on carrying momentum from one game to the next: "If we have the momentum right now, we have to re-establish it with our first shift [tonight]." ... Game 4 on Versus Thursday night received a 14.7 average rating in Detroit and a 27.5 in Pittsburgh, according to Nielsen Media Research. Versus was the top-rated network (broadcast and cable) for the time period in both markets.