Bounces roll with Red Wings in Game 1
The Detroit Red Wings literally used home ice to their advantage against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final.
A pair of fortuitous bounces that led to goals helped the defending champion Wings to a 3-1 victory Saturday night at Joe Louis Arena and a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Brad Stuart, Johan Franzen and Justin Abdelkader scored for Detroit, which won its third straight playoff game.
Detroit's Chris Osgood was terrific in goal, making 31saves on 32 shots.
"We're going to have to get goals like that," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said of the opening two goals Detroit received from the bounces off the boards. "I don't think there are going to be a whole lot of skill plays."
Ruslan Fedotenko netted the Penguins' only tally, while goaltender Marc-André Fleury stopped 27 shots.
This is the first Stanley Cup final rematch in 25 years — that 1984 series saw the Edmonton Oilers defeat the then-champion New York Islanders in five games.
"It's a race to four, and they got one," Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said.
The teams set an incredible pace to Game 1. There were no penalties called in the opening period, and the first icing didn't occur until around the two-minute mark of the second.
Crosby, Malkin quiet
Penguins stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin double-shifted several times Saturday night, but between the two, could only manage one assist by Malkin. Detroit also dominated more than 70 per cent of the draws, winning 39 faceoffs to Pittsburgh's 16.
"We expect it to be tight, and that's the way it is," said Crosby. "I thought we generated some good scoring chances. We just have to find a way to get a few more. We had a couple that didn't go in, and maybe that was the difference."
The Red Wings used a lucky bounce to take a 1-0 lead at 13:38 of the first period. Stuart kept the puck inside the Penguins' zone before letting a point shot go that ricocheted off the end boards and hit the back of Fleury's right leg.
"It's kind of tough," Fleury said. "Guy shoots and it misses the net, and it comes back pretty quick."
The Penguins, who failed to score a goal in the first two games of last year's final, drew even 4:59 later. Osgood stopped Malkin's slap shot, but Fedotenko converted the rebound just as the Detroit goalie was about to smother the puck.
Osgood rebounded early in the second, making three great stops, including a glove save on a Malkin breakaway.
"Huge … especially at that moment of the game," Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom said of Osgood's save. "Momentum could have swung in their favor, but he came up big. He came up big at other occasions later in the game too."
The lively boards were once again generous to Detroit, who regained their one-goal lead with 58 seconds remaining in the second, moments after a time out by the Penguins.
After Pittsburgh defenceman Hal Gill blocked a point shot, Franzen picked up the loose puck following a kind bounce off the boards and directed the puck toward the Penguin crease that Fleury inadvertently knocked in with his left leg.
"They got some fortunate breaks," Bylsma said.
The fourth line contributed to Detroit's third goal at 2:46 into the final period. Abdelkader controlled his own rebound in front of Penguins centre Jordan Staal, then batted a shot over the right shoulder of Fleury for his first career NHL goal.
"That was huge for us to get that insurance goal," Lidstrom said.
The Red Wings got two of their four key injured players back.
Lidstrom, who leads all NHL defenceman with 13 playoff points, returned after missing the last two games of the Western Conference final with an undisclosed lower-body injury.
Despite the layoff, Lidstrom logged 24:07 of ice time, more than any player on either side.
Defenceman Jonathan Ericsson was forced out of Game 5 overtime clincher against the Chicago Blackhawks following surgery for acute appendicitis. He finished with a plus-one rating against Pittsburgh.
Detroit was still without forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Kris Draper. Datsyuk missed his fourth game with a suspected broken foot, while Draper is still out with a groin injury.
Game 2 is set for Sunday night (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 8 p.m. ET) at Joe Louis Arena — the first time a Cup final will occur on back-to-back nights since 1955.