Red Wings emphatically move within win of 12th Stanley Cup title
DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings got exactly what they needed: a big win and long break.
After hearing how tired and beat up they were through four games of the Stanley Cup finals, the defending champions busted out with a devastating display of offense and defense and rolled to a 5-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night that put them a win away from another championship.
The veteran-laden Red Wings lead the series 3-2 and are closing in on their 12th Stanley Cup title and fifth in 12 seasons. Detroit can wrap this one up Tuesday night in Pittsburgh.
“It’s a huge win,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “The biggest part is the extra days off. That’s the best thing that we’ve got to this point.
“We’ll be a better team.”
Detroit’s two-game losing streak in Pittsburgh quickly became a distant memory as the Red Wings returned to the friendly confines of Joe Louis Arena and blew away the supposedly fresher Penguins.
The home team is 5-0 in the rematch of last year’s finals, so the Penguins still have that going for them.
“When you don’t play well at all, you have nothing to do but improve, and we have to,” Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby said. “The situation is pretty clear for us. We have to go home and be desperate now.”
Pavel Datsyuk made his mark in his first appearance in eight games, notching two assists, drawing a key penalty, and knocking leading scorer Evgeni Malkin to the ice. The Red Wings made the Penguins pay for a lack of discipline by going 3 for 9 on the power play. Detroit was 1 for 10 on the power play coming into Game 5.
Datsyuk even shook off a slash from Max Talbot on his sore right foot.
“When I play more, I’m more comfortable,” said Datsyuk, who logged 171/2 minutes of ice time. “It’s a little bit hard to start with the final series when I miss a couple of games, but I’m ready to play more.”
Chris Osgood, on the verge of his fourth Stanley Cup championship – third as the Red Wings starting goalie – made 22 saves for his 15th playoff shutout, third on the NHL career list. He earned an assist on Valtteri Filppula’s goal for his fifth career playoff point, and improved to 11-4 in the finals.
Detroit held a 29-22 shots advantage, the first time the home team had the edge.
“The other game is three days away so I don’t know if (the shutout) has much bearing on what’s going to happen in Pittsburgh,” Osgood said. “It’s more important for us to get a little break so we can be at full capacity when we go to Pittsburgh.”
This series looked firmly in the Red Wings’ control after they opened with a pair of 3-1 victories, but the Penguins seized momentum with two 4-2 wins that made Detroit appear worn out.
“We had no jump in the last game when they scored all the goals,” Babcock said. “It didn’t look like they had much jump when we scored all the goals. It’s amazing how tired you look when you’re not scoring and they are.”
History suggests the Red Wings will hoist the Cup again as 14 of the 19 previous teams to win Game 5 in a series tied 2-2 have prevailed.
Pittsburgh won Game 5 in the Motor City last year in triple overtime to force the series to six games, but then was eliminated at home. The Penguins are 1-5 in Detroit in the past two finals, and Crosby failed to score a goal in all six games.
“We won in Game 5 in overtime last year and we won a regular-season game here, so I think we’re pretty confident we can do a job here,” Crosby said.
The Red Wings broke it open with four goals in the second period – three in a span of 6:42 – against beleaguered goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who left after making 16 saves on 21 shots. It wasn’t the bouncy end boards that did him in this time, as they tormented him in the first two games, but rather a suddenly potent power play by the Red Wings.
Filppula started the barrage 1:44 into the second period when he made it 2-0 just 5 seconds after Chris Kunitz served a penalty for interfering with Osgood. That was the only even-strength goal of the period.
Niklas Kronwall pushed the lead to three at 6:11, 18 seconds into Sergei Gonchar’s slashing penalty on Datsyuk. Fellow defenseman Brian Rafalski made it 4-0 at 8:26, and Henrik Zetterberg – last year’s playoff MVP – closed the spurt at 15:40.
That chased Fleury to the bench in favor of backup Mathieu Garon, who made his first playoff appearance since 2004.
“We lost 5-0, so we can’t be happy,” Fleury said.
Datsyuk was sidelined since injuring his foot in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals. He knocked Malkin hard off the puck behind the net and then made the final pass to set up Dan Cleary’s goal at 13:32 of the first period.
“He did very well for being off for as long as he has been,” Rafalski said. “He wasn’t 100 percent Pavel Datsyuk, but I will take 85 percent of Pavel Datsyuk than 100 percent of other guys.”
Cleary scored his seventh goal in 11 games, but he hadn’t registered a point in the finals.
Chants of Datsyuk’s name filled the arena, replaced by calls of “We Want the Cup” as the final minutes ticked down, and others saluting Osgood.
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