Red Wings drive Fleury out with power-play onslaught
Down big midway through Game 5 last night at Joe Louis Arena, emotions boiled over. Sidney Crosby, center, tangles with Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk.
Marc-Andre Fleury makes his way to the bench after being pulled late in the second period with the Penguins down, 5-0.
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DETROIT -- There are times when everything falls into place for a team, the way they have so often for the Penguins over the past 3 1/2 months.
But there are others when things simply fall apart, which is what happened in their 5-0 loss against Detroit in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final at Joe Louis Arena last night.
The Penguins were not just defeated; they were dominated in every possible way. Their goaltending was weak, their penalty-killing worse. They could not score and could not prevent the Red Wings from doing it. They had breakdowns and letdowns and more than a few meltdowns.
"The best thing you can say about tonight is that we shot ourselves in the foot," defenseman Rob Scuderi said.
No, not really. They didn't shoot themselves in the foot. They blew their leg off from the kneecap down.
"They played really well," Penguins forward Max Talbot said. "We didn't."
Well, not unless their intent going into Game 5 had been to showcase every flaw in their game and to convince Detroit that now would be a swell time to finalize the design of its next batch of rings. If that was the case, it was an unqualified success.
Of course, if the idea was to reaffirm the Penguins' credentials as a championship-caliber team, they failed more miserably than anyone would have imagined.
"You don't plan for a result like that," defenseman Mark Eaton said.
The Red Wings own a 3-2 lead in the series and will have a chance to clinch their second title in a row with a victory in Game 6 Tuesday night at Mellon Arena. Coincidentally, that's where Detroit claimed the Cup in the sixth game of the 2008 final.
This is the 20th time a Cup final was tied, 2-2, after four games. The team winning Game 5 captured the Cup 14 of the previous 19 times, with the most recent exception being Tampa Bay in 2004.
The Penguins actually got a number of strong shifts early in the game, especially from the Ruslan Fedotenko-Evgeni Malkin-Talbot line, and, even after Dan Cleary scored what proved to be the winner at 13:32 of the first period, they remained reasonably confident.
"We were down, 1-zip, but I thought we played good hockey," Scuderi said. "All we had to do was keep that going."
Nice idea. Never came close to happening, though
The Penguins offered up what Eaton described as "an awful second period," and that might have been sugar-coating it.
They were outshot, 15-6, outscored, 4-0, and gave up three power-play goals in less than 10 minutes after allowing just one in the previous 13 periods.
The Penguins picked up all five of the penalties handed out by referees Paul Devorski and Dennis LaRue, and most of them were utterly pointless. And costly.
"We started being undisciplined, took some bad penalties," said Talbot, who picked up a minor for taking a whack at Pavel Datsyuk just 20 seconds after Sidney Crosby was sent off for slashing Henrik Zetterberg on the outside of the right knee.
"Their power play was on tonight," Penguins right winger Bill Guerin said. "And we just kept going to the box."
SECOND PERIOD: 1:44 -- Down, 1-0, the Penguins kill a penalty to Chris Kunitz. As they change lines, Detroit goalie Chris Osgood retrieves a puck dumped behind his net. He realizes the Penguins are changing and takes advantage by firing a pass down ice to right winger Marian Hossa. He coasts into the zone and flips a pass to Valtteri Filppula, who takes the puck, moves to his backhand and lifts a shot over Marc-Andre Fleury's glove for a goal.
By the time the second intermission arrived, Detroit had a 5-0 lead on second-period goals by Valtteri Filppula, Niklas Kronwall, Brian Rafalski and Zetterberg, and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury had a seat in the runway leading back to the Penguins' locker room.
Coach Dan Bylsma replaced him with Mathieu Garon after Zetterberg made it 5-0 at 15:40 of the second.
Of course, Bylsma could have played Fleury and Garon at the same time, and it wouldn't have mattered for most of the second period. Detroit was at its very best, while the Penguins seemed intent on self-destructing.
They have two days to get over it, to recover from their most crushing defeat in months and find a way to extend this series to a seventh game in Detroit Friday.
"It's 3-2, and I don't think we're in that bad of a situation," Talbot said. "If you would have told me at the start of the year that we'd be down, 3-2, in the Stanley Cup final going back home, I'd take it any day."
First Published June 7, 2009 12:00 am