In the closing minutes of the third period of Saturday’s crucial Game 4, the Pittsburgh Penguins got a gift. Two Detroit penalties within 33 seconds of each other gave the lethal Pittsburgh powerplay a chance to tie the game, and possibly even take the lead. The puck movement and positioning of the Penguins was nearly perfect, and Sidney Crosby found himself with a loose puck and a wide open net. However, before he could bury it and tie the game, Henrik Zetterberg tied him up, perfectly denying Crosby the opportunity to shoot the puck. Osgood recovered and made the save, but it was Zetterberg’s effort that made it possible. The Swede then killed about another minute of the penalty by rushing the puck into the Pittsburgh end and rebuffing one or two Pittsburgh attempts to breakout of the zone.
The Penguins had a chance to remain undefeated at home and make a serious run at climbing back into the series. While the situation is not impossible, winning three games (two of which are at Detroit, where Pittsburgh has looked miserable) against a team that has allowed only four goals this series, is a monumental task, even for this group of talented scorers. Fleury will need to play beyond perfect, and cannot give up the kind of goal that ended up costing the Penguins Game 4. Jiri Hudler’s shot from the right wing boards was a result of numerous failed clearing attempts by the Penguins, but should have been a routine save for Fleury. Instead, the Penguins are now on the brink of elimination as they head back to Joe Louis Arena.
Sidney Crosby is doing his best to carry this team to victory, but it will require a full team effort to even give the Pens any hope of making it back to Pittsburgh for Game 6. Evgeny Malkin needs to get back on the ice and replace the shadow that has been wearing No. 71 for most of this series. I wouldn’t say it’s over yet, but fans in Detroit are already hearing the fat lady warm up her vocal chords for Monday night’s game.