Good bounces, 1st goal key to Penguins' Cup hopes
Fleury, teammates look to square series Sunday night at Detroit
With a short turnaround in the Stanley Cup final, Detroit's all-star defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom says it's imperative to eat well and get a good rest.
Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was probably hoping for a nightmare-free sleep Saturday night after allowing a couple of fluky goals off the end boards at Joe Louis Arena in a 3-1 loss to the hometown Red Wings in the NHL championship opener.
Besides food and rest, Fleury planned to study before Game 2 at Detroit on Sunday (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 8 p.m. ET).
"I'll try to forget about it," he told reporters in reference to the costly goals. "Watch the [game] tape and see if I can do something else."
On the first goal Detroit goal, defenceman Brad Stuart banked a shot off the back boards and watched the puck carom off Fleury into the net.
After Penguins winger Ruslan Fedotenko evened the score late in the first period, Johan Franzen put the Red Wings ahead 2-1. He corralled a Brian Rafalski shot that missed the net and banked the puck off Fleury's left leg and into the net.
The Pittsburgh netminder was aware of the lively boards, having talked about them at length on Thursday. But 48 hours later he wasn't getting any sympathy from Detroit head coach Mike Babcock or Hockey Night in Canada's Don Cherry, who suggested the Penguins should have practiced Friday in Detroit and not in Pittsburgh.
"In [Saturday's] morning skate, they were out there working on banking [shots off the boards]. They've played here before," said Babcock. "Every game you go to there are nuances and you try to take advantage of them the best you possibly can. We got some breaks, but I always believe when you're at the net you've got a chance to get some breaks."
Red Wings goaltender Chris Osgood, meanwhile, didn't allow the Penguins any breaks in a 31-save performance. But he did offer Fleury some advice entering Game 2.
"They've gotten me quite a few times. They're really bouncy," Osgood told HNIC's Scott Oake of the boards at Joe Louis Arena. "As a goalie, the [second the puck] misses the net you gotta get back to your post as fast as you can. You just have to hope you get a nice bounce."
Pittsburgh will be wishing for as much Sunday night, but must also concentrate on its work in the faceoff circle (Detroit won 39 of 55 draws in Game 1), driving the net, scoring the first goal and generating pressure on the power play.
While the Penguins outshot Detroit 32-30 on Saturday, one could argue few shots were of high quality. From there it was all Osgood, who lowered his goals-against average to 2.00 in these playoffs and raised his save percentage to .928.
"When Detroit scores first they don't often lose, and [the Penguins] have to be in a position where they are not coming from behind in the third period because Detroit just doesn't give up goals in the third period. Six all spring," said HNIC analyst Scott Morrison.
Fatigue a factor
The Red Wings, who controlled the puck and play in the final 20 minutes Saturday, had a 37-4-5 record in the regular season when scoring first and are 9-1 in such situations in the playoffs.
HNIC analyst P.J. Stock believes Pittsburgh coach Dany Bylsma needs to dress six defencemen, not seven, along with 12 forwards, to help give top forwards Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin some rest with Game 3 slated for Tuesday.
"When Crosby and Malkin were on the ice [in Game 1] they were swarmed by Red Wings and they looked fatigued," Stock, a former NHLer, told viewers. "Three games in four nights, those forwards are going to get tired."
Sunday will mark the first time the Cup final has been contested on consecutive days since 1955.
Babcock said there would be no lineup changes for the Red Wings, meaning injured forwards Pavel Datsyuk (foot) and Kris Draper (groin) won't play.
With files from The Associated Press