Sometimes it's funny the way things go in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Pittsburgh Penguins played two of the best games of the 2009 post season in Games One and Two of the Stanley Cup Finals. And they lost.
In Game Three, the Penguins were hardly as precise with the puck as they were at the Joe Louis Arena.
However, whether it was the 17,132 strong in the stands and the other few thousands looking on outside on the lawn, or the realization that they simply couldn't afford to lose this game, the Pens did what they had to do to pick up the victory.
A lot of people have already written the Penguins off in this series. A Game Three victory won't change their minds.
Some were even starting to talk about a sweep.
Just ask the Washington Capitals how talking about a sweep after winning the first two games of a series worked out for them.
You could tell the Pens were feeding off of the home crowd early in the game.
Matt Cooke-Jordan Staal-Tyler Kennedy played one of the best periods of hockey a third line has ever played during the first 60 minutes tonight.
Max Talbot got the Pens on the board first as he found the taped 'X' on the ice just inside the left circle that has been recently vacated by one Petr Sykora.
Max posted up inside the circle and Evgeni Malkin found him with a perfect pass.
Talbot blew a shot past Osjoke to make it 1-0 Pens.
The Wings didn't waste much time in responding to the early tally as Hank Aaron pounded a hanging Sergei Gonchar curveball over the right field wall.
A couple of minutes later, Brook Orpik went off for interference and Zetterberg took over on the power play.
From the half wall, Zetterberg sailed a pass across the ice to The Horse, who buried the biscuit to give the Wings a 2-1 lead.
After Dan Cleary got caught admiring how perfectly many of his teammates' beards matched the red on the arms of their jerseys, he was sent to the sin bin for holding.
On the ensuing power play, the Pens were determined to even the score.
After a few solid stops by Osgood, Gonchar worked the puck to Malkin on the half wall and Geno sent a cross ice pass to Kris Letang.
Letang bobbled the pass momentarily, which allowed The Horse to forget he was playing defense.
Letang recovered and fired a shot toward the net that Osjoke still hasn't seen. 2-2.
The Pens dominated the first half of the second period, but managed just four shots on goal.
The Wings took over in the second half of the period and peppered Marc-Andre Fleury with 11 shots.
Neither goalie gave any ground as the period ended the way it started, tied at two.
At 9:06 of the third period, Jonathan Ericsson was called for interference.
Before Wings fans even have the opportunity to complain about this call, think about how many times the same infraction hasn't been called in the series. Then quickly FED EX as many boxes of Just for Men hair dye as you can to the Joe before Game Five.
Those red beards rival Jaromir Jagr's New York Rangers era goatee for the title of worst facial hair in professional sports.
At the tail end of the Penguins' power play, Gonchar set up shop in his office at the blue line.
He passed up a couple of opportunities to shoot the puck before Billy Guerin posted up in front of Osgood.
Crosby went to the net, drawing all the attention to himself. (Insert NBC/VERSUS loves Crosby comment here.)
Gonch fired a shot that beat Osgood and gave the Pens the only lead they would need to pick up their first victory of the series.
The Wings managed just three shots on goal in the third period. Flower turned aside all of them.
Talbot added an empty net goal, his second of the game, in the dying seconds before Elvis threw a hip into Mike Emrick on his way out of the building.
Final Score: Pittsburgh 4, Detroit 2
Series: 2-1 Detroit
- Has Marian Hossa even played in this series?
- Billy Guerin has one more point than Marian Hossa in the playoffs.
- Although the Penguins didn't play their best game of the series collectively, individually, a lot of guys turned in their best performance of the post season.
- The entire third line was insane. Brooks Orpik was hitting everything that moved. Kris Letang looked like a seasoned veteran in all three zones. Rob Scuderi's stick killed more attempted passes through the slot than a Red Wings' fan at an Endangered Species conference.
- VERSUS gets points for allowing their broadcasts to be shown on the big screen outside the Igloo. Too bad they employ the worst group of commentators/analysts in professional sports.
- Has that Bill Whatever guy from the Hockey Central crew ever watched hockey before VERSUS hired him? He hosted the US Open and PGA Tour for eight years before gaining employment on Hockey Central. I guess that explains everything.
- By no means does winning this game mean the Penguins are back in the series. Game Four is probably more important than Game Three was.
Until then, get busy livin' or get busy dyin'.
Let's Go Pens.