Penguins face huge odds in trying to overcome 2-0 deficit
The Red Wings' Brad Stuart checks Petr Sykora into the board in the second period last night at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.
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DETROIT -- History suggests the Penguins have very little hope of winning the Stanley Cup this season.
Reality suggests they have absolutely none, unless they can figure out how to make some radical changes during the rest of the series.
Start doing some dramatically different stuff, like scoring a goal every now and then.
They haven't managed that in the first two games of the Cup final, including a 3-0 loss to Detroit in Game 2 at Joe Louis Arena last night that gave the Red Wings a 2-0 lead in the series, which will shift to Mellon Arena for Game 3 tomorrow night.
This defeat came in the wake of a 4-0 loss to the Red Wings in the opener, and makes the Penguins the first team since Anaheim in 2003 to be shut out in the first two games of the final.
"Obviously, it's a surprise," Penguins left winger Gary Roberts said. "We've had some success scoring goals in the playoffs."
True enough, but they are shooting 0 for 41 from the field and, while Detroit goalie Chris Osgood obviously has made every stop he has had to, there have been times when his greatest challenge simply has been to avoid the temptation to nap.
Times like the first 12 minutes of Game 2, when the Penguins didn't have a shot and Osgood's teammates staked him to a 2-0 lead.
With the way Detroit can clog the neutral zone -- there are times when opponents couldn't get through it if they were using machetes -- a two-goal lead, even one with 2 1/2 periods to play, can seem almost insurmountable.
"They're obviously a great team with the lead," Penguins center Max Talbot said. "That's their strength."
The power play is usually one of the Penguins' best assets, but it was 0 for 3 in Game 2 and, of course, has produced nothing but frustration in this series.
"Our power play has to come up with a goal," winger Petr Sykora said.
Detroit failed to score on eight tries with the extra man, but three even-strength goals were more than enough.
Not surprisingly, the game turned nasty in the second half of the third period.
"Anytime you're in a series like this, you want everybody to pay the price," Roberts said.
With just under nine minutes left, Roberts hit Johan Franzen, who had just returned to Detroit's lineup after having "concussion-like symptoms," with a hard check and appeared to punctuate it with a punch to the left side of the head.
"My shoulder maybe hit him in the side of the face, but there was no intent there," Roberts said.
A few minutes later, there was contact between Sykora and Osgood. Sykora got an interference minor; Osgood picked up numerous charges from the Penguins that he dove to draw that call.
And didn't deny it when asked directly about such an accusation by Penguins coach Michel Therrien.
"It doesn't concern me," Osgood said. "I've been called worse."
Asked if he was trying to initiate contact with Osgood, Sykora responded simply, "Are you kidding me?"
That wasn't the Penguins' only concern about the officiating.
After the game, Therrien suggested that Detroit's stifling team defense has at least one illegal component -- obstruction that goes either undetected or uncalled.
"They're good at it," Therrien said.
"They're pretty good at it. The first thing that I see that they're really good at ... obstruction."
His intent clearly is to plant that idea with the officials who will work Game 3.
The Penguins were two goals down when they got their first chance with the extra man last night.
Brad Stuart put Detroit in front to stay at 6:55, when he beat goalie Marc-Andre Fleury with a shot from near the outer edge of the right circle, and Tomas Holmstrom made it 2-0 when he swatted the puck across the goal line at 11:18.
Valtteri Filppula closed out the scoring at 8:48 of the third.
The Red Wings are the 32nd team to win the first two games of a Cup final on home ice. Thirty of the previous 31 captured the championship.
Clearly, the Penguins need something close to a miracle. But first, they need a goal.
"I just don't think there's going to be a lot to be had out there, as far as goal-scoring," Roberts said.
"We're going to have to win some 2-1, 1-0 hockey games to get back into this series."
First Published May 27, 2008 12:00 am