Sidney Crosby took the ice last night with the apparent goal of putting the entire team on his shoulders and carrying them to a win. Playing like a man possessed, Crosby did just that, scoring the Pens’ first goal of the series at 17:25 of the 1st, adding a second on the powerplay early in the 2nd. Crosby took a couple big hits throughout the game, including one hip check from Kris Draper which sent him head over heels at the blueline. Despite the physical play of the Red Wings, Crosby was flying around the ice all night, and his play definitely trickled down to his teammates.
The Pens were powered by a physical, fast-paced offense which played more into their style. The Wings were unable to clog up the neutral zone as they had in Games 1 and 2, and Pittsburgh did a much better job of controlling the puck. Part of the reason they were able to do so was because of hard forechecking that caused a number of turnovers by the Wings in their own zone. The game-winning goal was actually a direct result of a good Penguins forecheck.
After a big hit by Kirk Maltby in the Penguins’ end, Gary Roberts chased a dump-in in the Wings’ end, and dropped Brett Lilja in the corner. The puck was worked to Adam Hall who hit the side of the net with a shot, then corralled the rebound behind the net and banked it in off Osgood who was scrambling to get back in net. The Pens should have scored again off a forecheck, but Hossa rang a backhand off the post and although Crosby’s rebound attempt squirted through Osgood’s pads, he was able to glove it before it crossed the goal line.
The Wings did not play poorly at all, but caught a few bad breaks that kept them behind on the scoreboard. Franzen’s goal in the 2nd was a brilliant solo effort which left Rob Scuderi and Jordan Staal reaching for him as he dangled through them and slipped the puck under Fleury’s arm. Tomas Holmstrom should have tied it in the 3rd, after Datsyuk pulled the puck between his own legs and dished it across the ice to the big Swede, who hit the post as Fleury dove across his crease.
The Penguins’ victory certainly makes Game 4 very meaningful for both teams. If the Pens play the same style they did in Game 3, they will most likely have the same results. Detroit thrives on puck possession and slowing the play to their own pace. As we saw last night, Pittsburgh clearly has an advantage when the game is wide open.
Notes: Mikael Samuelsson scored his 3rd goal of the series, giving him more goals this series than he had in the rest of the playoffs. Darryl Sydor dressed in place of Kris Letang, to make his first appearance since March 30.