Dupuis steps up, salvages shootout win
The Penguins' Tyler Kennedy shoots against Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, and defenseman Jakub Kindi to score in the second period Monday in Detroit.
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DETROIT -- The Penguins have lost a pretty valuable blue-collar winger for the rest of the regular season and the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
A guy who kills penalties exceptionally well, is responsible in his end and makes occasional contributions to the offense.
Good thing they had another one in reserve.
Just hours after learning that Matt Cooke won't play again for more than a month as punishment for his hit to the head of New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh Sunday, the Penguins got an exceptional effort from Pascal Dupuis in a 5-4 shootout victory Monday night against Detroit at Joe Louis Arena.
Dupuis scored the first and third goals and set up the second as the Penguins rebounded from a deflating 5-2 loss to the Rangers the previous day at home.
"Guys have to step up and be the hero sometime," Dupuis said, smiling.
The Penguins didn't get their two points, though, until after they failed to hold a four-goal lead built in the first 34 minutes of regulation.
But even though the Red Wings dominated them for much of the third period -- "We got away from our game," left winger Chris Kunitz said -- Detroit never managed to generate the go-ahead goal, and the Penguins got their victory when James Neal was the only player on either team to score in the shootout.
Neal has just one regulation-time goal in 12 games since being acquired from Dallas, but his shootout-deciding one is a pretty nice consolation prize.
"It felt good," Neal said. "Especially after blowing that 4-1 lead."
Neal's goal ended the game because goalie Brent Johnson denied Todd Bertuzzi, Mike Modano and Dan Cleary of the Red Wings in the shootout. His glove save on Modano in the second round was particularly dazzling.
Johnson said he had replaced his glove at the end of overtime. Modano is to be forgiven for thinking he replaced it with one the size of Kentucky after the way Johnson snagged his blur of a shot.
"He got lots of wood on it," Johnson said.
The victory raised the Penguins' record to 42-23-8 and lifted them to within four points of Philadelphia, which leads the Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division. The Flyers have two games in hand, however, and remain overwhelming favorites to finish ahead of the Penguins.
The Penguins and Red Wings deployed significantly watered-down lineups. The Penguins had their usual list of injured players, headlined by Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Brooks Orpik; Detroit was missing forwards Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen and Jiri Hudler.
Winger Arron Asham, who had missed the previous 21 games because of a concussion, returned to the Penguins lineup, taking over the spot usually filled by Cooke.
Dupuis gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead when he beat Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard with a backhander from along the goal line to the left of the net at 15:14 of the opening period, and Kunitz converted a Dupuis rebound to make it 2-0 at 19:17.
Dupuis put them up by three with a short-handed goal at 10:51, as he tucked a shot inside the right post after his attempt to throw a backhand pass failed and the puck caromed back to him off the lively Joe Louis back boards.
Tyler Kennedy drove Howard to the bench at 13:16, when he got a pass from Kunitz and flipped in a backhander for his 17th.
The game seemed under control then, but Henrik Zetterberg's backhander from just outside the left dot glanced off Penguins defenseman Kris Letang and sailed into the net behind Johnson at 17:41.
Johnson got another tough break at 1:57 of the third, as Valtteri Filppula of Detroit fought his way free of defenseman Deryk Engelland in front of the net, and slid the puck toward the net. It was headed through the crease and wide of the right post, but struck Johnson's left skate and skidded across the goal line.
Power-play goals by Cleary (8:06) and Modano (10:27) tied the score, but those were the last ones the Red Wings would get, as the Penguins dodged a potentially devastating defeat.
"It would have been tough," Johnson said. "You don't really know unless it happens. But definitely, it would have been hard."
NOTES -- Center Sidney Crosby, who is recovering from a concussion, skated Monday at Southpointe, in addition to doing some off-ice work. ... Defenseman Brooks Orpik is supposed to resume practicing with the Penguins Wednesday and to resume playing in the relatively near future. He has been out for nearly four weeks because of a broken finger.