2009 Stanley Cup Final Game Three: Pens Power Play Proves Performace

Michael MrockCorrespondent IJune 4, 2009

PITTSBURGH - JUNE 02:  Sergei Gonchar #55 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates his goal against the Detroit Red Wings during Game Three of the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Finals on June 2, 2009 at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The 4-2 victory by the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Three of the Stanley Cup Finals did little to cement their presence as equal to the Detroit Red Wings

The crowd in Mellon Arena was on Pittsburgh's side as they performed their traditional "white out" which proved their loyalty to the Pens and made the Wings fans easier to see.  However it was really the last change that served as the greater advantage.

The Pens do not have nearly the depth of the Wings.  However with the last change they were able to counter the strategy of Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Lidstrom jumping on the ice the moment Sydney Crosby did in the previous two games.

This strategy did work as three of the four goals scored by the Pens occurred when Lidstrom and Zetterberg were both off of the ice.  Crosby was on the ice for two of the Pens' goals.  It also turns out Evgeni Malkin was on the ice for all four of the Pens' goals. 

However, this strategy will be mute now that it is known that centers Pavel Datsyuk and Kris Draper will be returning to the ice for Game Four.  They both have won the Selke trophy for defensive play by a forward. 

They are both masters on the faceoff as they played with one of the best ever in Steve Yzerman.  They are both physical enough that Crosby and Malkin will be taken out of their comfort zone. 

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The scoring magic that has been present thanks to Darren Helm and Justin Abdelkader was not a factor in Game Three.  The Pens made sure that Helm got beaten up on nearly every shift for showing them up. 

Zetterberg and Franzen were able to break through the Pens defense to score. Strangely both goals were scored nearly at the same distance from Marc-Andre Fleury on shots.

Zetterberg's goal came six minutes in the first period on a rebound off a wrap-around attempt by Ville Leino. The goal also came less than two minutes after Maxim Talbot scored the first goal for Pittsburgh. 

Franzen's goal was scored five minutes later in the first period on a pass from Zetterberg to take the lead.  However, Kris Letang scored four minutes later on the power play to tie the score again.

The power play was on Daniel Cleary for holding, which seemed to be a cruel call, when only minutes earlier the refs didn't notice for 21 seconds that the Pens had six players on the ice.  True it is bad they blew the call, however, the Pens couldn't score with that advantage. 

They instead needed the power play to tie the score.  In the third period they needed another penalty, which was on Jonathan Ericsson for interference to allow for Sergei Gonchar to score the go-ahead power play goal.  

The empty netter to close the scoring with less than a minute to go, stung as it was scored only seconds after Chris Osgood made it to the Wings bench.

Game Four is the game of games for the Final.  The return of Datsyuk and Draper will energize the Wings with a veteran presence that the Pens do not have enough depth to counter. 

The Pens will try to feed off of their crowd again to keep their hopes up along with having last change.  However, as it has been in the prior rounds in these playoffs, the Wings learn from whatever mistakes they have made to come back even stronger than before.