PITTSBURGH – Sidney Crosby scored Pittsburgh’s first two goals of the series and Adam Hall got the game-winner as the Penguins gave themselves new life with a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final on Wednesday night.
The Red Wings, who shut out Pittsburgh in consecutive games in Detroit, lead the best-of-seven series 2-1 with Game 4 set for Saturday night at Mellon Arena.
“We still have to keep going, but for sure we needed this one,” said Crosby. “We all earned it, and that’s the reward. A big win.”
The Penguins improved to 9-0 in home games in this year’s playoffs and won for the 17th straight time in their home rink.
Johan Franzen scored his playoff-leading 13th goal and Mikael Samuelsson also scored for the Red Wings, who bid farewell to their six-game Stanley Cup final winning streak started in their five-game win over Carolina in 2002.
The sellout crowd of 17,132 was in a roar as Hall gave Pittsburgh a 3-1 lead 7:18 into the third period, banking a shot in off scrambling goalie Chris Osgood’s back from behind the net.
But a seeing-eye shot from the right boards by Samuelsson – his third of the series – went in off the stick of Penguins defenceman Brooks Orpik and past goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury with 6:23 left to play, setting up a nervy ending for the young Penguins as Detroit pressed for the equalizer.
Their troubles were compounded when Evgeni Malkin, who has only one goal and one assist in the last seven games, took a hooking penalty with 4:18 left to play. Pittsburgh killed it off, then held on the rest of the way.
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock credited Crosby and linemate Marian Hossa with playing far better than they had in the first two games.
“I thought Crosby and Hossa were better,” said Babcock. “(They had) more energy and they controlled more plays. I thought they did a pretty good job.
“You have to give them credit, they found a way to win a game.”
Babcock also felt he was partly to blame for the outcome.
“I didn’t think we used our bench good enough tonight,” said Babcock. “We didn’t have the same kind of tempo that we had coming off our bench the first couple of games.”
The Penguins skated out to a white-out – a crowd nearly all dressed in white T-shirts handed out at the door – but after an early chance by Ryan Malone, the home side was lulled to sleep by the Red Wings’ checking. Detroit led 9-1 in shots in the opening 14 minutes
Coach Michel Therrien then moved the struggling Malkin onto the top line with Crosby and Hossa and his team came to life, forcing a break for the opening goal – their first of the series.
Defenceman Brad Stuart hit Henrik Zetterberg’s skate with a pass in the Detroit zone, allowing Crosby to grab the puck and work a give-and-go with Hossa to put a shot in off Osgood’s pad at 17:25. The goal was the first for the Penguins in 153 minutes 22 seconds.
“Finally,” Crosby said. “It wasn’t that the chances weren’t there, it’s just that finally one went in for us. We had hit posts and didn’t get the bounces. Finally one went in, and it felt good to get the first one.”
Only 2:34 into the second period, Crosby banged Hossa’s rebound in at the side of the net on a power play.
Penguins defenceman Hal Gill then took consecutive cross-checking penalties and, on the second of them, Franzen got the puck at the blue-line, deked around Rob Scuderi and went in alone to beat Fleury at 14:48.
Therrien juggled his lines often from the second period on, looking to keep the Red Wings checkers off balance. It was mostly effective.
Fleury has now won 19 straight starts at Mellon Arena.
Notes: Veteran defenceman Darryl Sydor saw his first action of these playoffs replacing rookie Kristopher Letang. There were no other lineup changes for either team. … The Penguins’ goal drought broke the previous franchise playoff record of 151:18 against New Jersey in the 2001 conference final. … Since 1991, the Red Wings have played more playoff games than any other North American sports franchise with 217. The NBA’s San Antonio Spurs are next with 204.