Detroit beats Pittsburgh in Stanley Cup opener
Mikael Samuelsson scored twice and Chris Osgood earned his 12th career playoff shutout as the Detroit Red Wings took Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final on Saturday night 4-0 over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Samuelsson opened the scoring just past the midway point of the game, wheeling around from behind the Pittsburgh net and stuffing a backhander on the wraparound past Marc-Andre Fleury.
Samuelsson then swiped the puck in the Pittsburgh zone from Evgeni Malkin early in the third, firing a wrist shot past Fleury.
"He hadn't been scoring here lately but he got an assist his last game and Sammy's kind of a streak guy, when he scores he gets feeling good about himself," said Detroit coach Mike Babcock. "I thought he played big and strong."
Daniel Cleary and Henrik Zetterberg added goals in the final three minutes of the game to pad the lead.
Osgood made 19 saves at the other end, including big ones on Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Marian Hossa, with Hossa also hitting the post in the third when the outcome was still in doubt.
Fleury finished with 32 saves and kept his team in the game as the Penguins were soundly outplayed in the second but exited the period down just 1-0.
"Definitely that was our worst performance of the playoffs," said Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien. "We didn't compete the way we were supposed to compete.
"It's a good lesson."
Game 2 will take place Monday night at 8 p.m. ET (CBC, CBCSports.ca).
Detroit came out with jump early, and Fleury was tested on successive shots from Jiri Hudler and Daniel Cleary. Osgood showed he was in form early on as well, setting aside shots from Hossa and Rob Scuderi.
The Red Wings took consecutive penalties later in the period, and Pittsburgh almost scored on the second opportunity. Sergei Gonchar fired a hard slapper off the backboards that hit bodies in front and bounced into crease, and was covered by Osgood.
The goaltender was steady seconds later for Crosby's re-direct of a Ryan Whitney shot.
"The one thing we continue to say when we have a good night killing penalties [is] 'Chris Osgood's our best penalty killer,'" said Kris Draper. "And that's exactly what he was again tonight.
"They had some great chances early on. Ozzie was able to get a good piece of some shots they were getting towards the net. He's been great for us."
Detroit appeared to have opened the scoring in the first when Lidstrom snuck in from the point and fired a perfect wristshot in the top corner, but Tomas Holmstrom was cited for interfering with Fleury. The big Swede had put his stick against the goaltender's chest, impeding his movement.
Pittsburgh nearly went ahead when Crosby threaded a seeing-eye pass to Malkin in the crease, but Osgood held firm.
Detroit dominated in the second. Draper hit both posts with his early rebound chance, while Valtteri Filppula's bid to open the scoring was denied by Fleury.
Pittsburgh had few chances in the frame but a great one when Crosby sprung Pascal Dupuis on a short breakaway. His attempt to stuff a backhander between Osgood's pads was unsuccessful.
Detroit put on sustained pressure for several minutes and was rewarded at the 13:01 mark with Samuelsson's opening gambit, which came off a neutral zone turnover.
"Before we scored the first goal we had about four shifts in a row where we really got the tempo up," said Babcock. "I thought we were nervous early, I didn't think we executed very good early and then I thought once we got the tempo up, we got skating."
The Red Wings outshot the visitors 16-4 in the second.
Samuelsson scored his fourth of the playoffs just over two minutes into the third, taking advantage of Malkin's casual stickhandling in his own zone.
Hossa hit the post late in third and Crosby's follow-up attempt was stopped by Osgood. The Red Wings goalie then came out to challenge Gonchar on the power play, stopping a slapshot just moments before Brad Stuart set up Cleary for the three-goal cushion.
Cleary took the puck as it caromed off the boards in the corner of Pittsburgh's end zone and beat Fleury.
Zetterberg's goal with 13 seconds left, a power-play marker, was meaningless to the outcome but gave him sole possession of the playoff scoring lead over Crosby with 22 points (12 goals, 10 assists).
Detroit finished 1-for-6 on the power play, while Pittsburgh failed on five opportunities.
The Red Wings were credited with winning 35 of the 66 faceoffs.
Since the NHL introduced the best-of-seven format in 1939, teams winning Game 1 of the final have gone on to win the Stanley Cup on 53 of 68 occasions.
Referees Paul Devorksi and Dan O'Halloran were rewarded with the Game 1 assignment, with Shane Heyer and Jay Sharrers the linesmen.