Red Wings' Locker Room: Detroit has a 2-0 lead in series thanks to its unrecognizable players
Red Wings players converge on Valtteri Filppula to celebrate his go-ahead goal in the second period last night.
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DETROIT -- The same, and yet not the same.
The defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings are in the exact spot they were a year ago -- they hold a 2-0 lead against the Penguins heading on the road for Game 3 at Mellon Arena.
Yet, to them, it feels different.
"I've been impressed with how they've played," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said of the Penguins. "They play hard right to the end. They put a lot of pressure on us."
To no avail, though.
The Red Wings take consecutive 3-1 victories into tomorrow night's game, the second one of those wins coming last night at Joe Louis Arena.
The Red Wings were not as dominant in these two games as they were in the opening two here last year. In those games, the Penguins were admittedly a bit awestruck by the stage and got shut out twice, 4-0 in Game 1 and 3-0 in Game 2.
"This Pittsburgh team has played hard from the drop of the puck," Babcock said.
And to the end of the game, judging from a scrum in the final seconds that had offensive stars Evgeni Malkin of the Penguins and Henrik Zetterberg of the Red Wings square off in a fight.
Babcock dismissed that as simple competitiveness and, on Malkin's part apparently, frustration.
As big a story for Detroit was the play of another prominent player and a few who, until these playoffs, were relatively unknown.
Goaltender Chris Osgood -- who had the back-to-back shutouts in the first two games a year ago -- made 31 saves against a Penguins team that couldn't convert the 21 giveaways handed to them.
"They had a lot of chances, created a lot," Zetterberg said, referring to the Penguins' performance last night, "but [Osgood] played good and kept us in it."
Osgood is 10-2 in Stanley Cup final games.
He let in the first goal of the game, then stopped everything.
When the Penguins scored first on Malkin's power-play goal at 16:50 of the first period, it was the first time the Red Wings trailed in the playoffs against the Penguins since Petr Sykora scored in the third overtime in Game 5 last year.
The Red Wings then won Game 6 to clinch the Cup and Game 1 here Saturday night.
That Penguins' lead lasted just 7:21, until rookie defenseman Jonathan Ericsson tied it with a shot from the left point at 4:21 of the second period.
From there, Osgood took over, with help from Valtterri Filppula and another rookie, Justin Abdelkader, who added goals. For Abdelkader, it was his second NHL goal in as many nights. For Ericsson, it was his first goal since he had surgery Wednesday to have his appendix removed.
"Both teams have very good offensive guys out there, guys who can score," Ericsson said.
Yet it has been some lesser-known players who have bolstered the Red Wings.
In the first two games in 2008, Detroit got goals from players known for such things. Of their seven goals in those games, two were from Mikael Samuelsson, one each from Zetterberg, Tomas Holmstrom and Dan Cleary.
In these two games, Johan Franzen has been the only highly recognized goal-scorer. The others have been scored by defenseman Brad Stuart, Filppula, Ericsson and two by Abdelkader.
"It's crucial at this time of year, to have a lot of young players who are enthusiastic, full of energy, to go out there and make things happen," defenseman Brian Rafalski said.
The Penguins have gotten a goal each from NHL regular-season scoring champion Evgeni Malkin and his winger, Ruslan Fedotenko. Not only has the rest of the supporting cast been quiet, but star center Sidney Crosby has been held without a point.
That did not stop Detroit from throwing compliments toward its opponent.
"I thought Pittsburgh played very well the first two games, but [Osgood] played great," winger Dan Cleary said. "That's a good team we're playing. They've got confidence.
"Now we go into their building."
And the Red Wings do that in the same position, up, 2-0, even if the Penguins are showing them a little more fire.
First Published June 1, 2009 12:41 am