PITTSBURGH – For three straight years, the home team has won the first three games of the Stanley Cup final.
The Pittsburgh Penguins secured that accomplishment for the second consecutive year by beating the Detroit Red Wings 4-2 Tuesday night. However, the Game 3 winner hasn’t managed to stay alive past Game 6.
“In my opinion, in the two games at home, one of them could have gone the other way, too,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “So this series is where it should be.”
The Ottawa Senators cut the Anaheim Ducks’ lead to 2-1 in the 2007 finals, only to drop the next two games and go out in five. The Penguins lost Game 4 to the Red Wings last year, forced the series back to Pittsburgh with a Game 5 win, but had its season end on home ice.
Not that the Red Wings are relying on history to come through for them again this time.
“I don’t think so. It’s a new year,” forward Valtteri Filppula said.
THIRD-PERIOD TURNAROUND: After being outshot 26-11 through two periods, the Penguins turned things around in the third en route to the 4-2 victory.
Lucky to be tied 2-2 through 40 minutes, the Penguins turned it on and outshot Detroit 10-3 in the third. Sergei Gonchar’s power-play goal snapped the deadlock with 9:31 remaining, and Max Talbot’s empty-netter sealed Pittsburgh’s win.
Before Tuesday, Detroit’s previous low shot total in a period in this year’s playoffs was six, done four times. The Red Wings had outscored opponents 19-6 in the third period and outshot them 210-153 during the post-season.
The Penguins rebounded after being outshot 14-4 in the second period.
“It’s probably a little easier when you come out of a bad period like that and you’re still tied,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. “You feel like you’ve kind of dodged a bullet.”
LIDSTROM SPEAKS: You can count on Nicklas Lidstrom meeting the media every day during the Stanley Cup finals.
One day after 21-year-old Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby took a break from reporters questions, Lidstrom gave his take Tuesday about standing up in front of cameras, tape recorders and notebooks on a regular basis.
“I look at it as being part of the job, the same as coming to practice,” said Lidstrom, in his third season as Detroit Red Wings captain. “You go out there and skate at practice, you talk to the media afterward, too. I just consider that as part of the game and part of being a hockey player.”
Crosby is a regular participant at the post-season podium, but after the Penguins returned to Pittsburgh on Monday following two consecutive losses in Detroit at the start of the Stanley Cup finals, he left the talking to other teammates and coach Dan Bylsma.
Crosby failed to record a point in either of Pittsburgh’s 3-1 losses.
“I actually have a game plan for the playoffs. I made a point of saying every day doesn’t need to be Sidney Crosby day,” Bylsma said Monday. “There have been days when he hasn’t been out here. So that was it. We made a choice to give other people a chance to be up here and for you to talk to them and feel it’s important for it to be a team thing, not just Dan Bylsma and Sidney Crosby talking at the podium every day.”
The demand for Lidstrom’s time went up once he took over the captain’s ‘C’ after Steve Yzerman retired.
“I get lot more requests and I talk a lot more to the media than when I wasn’t the captain or even assistant captain,” the generally soft-spoken Lidstrom said. “There is a little bit more responsibilities now when you are the captain.”
THE CITY OF (ROAD) CHAMPIONS: By losing the first two games of the Stanley Cup finals in Detroit, the Penguins left themselves with little chance of ending a Pittsburgh sports curiosity. When the city’s sports teams win championship-clinching games, they usually do it on the road.
Over the past 38 years, Pittsburgh’s three major pro sports teams have won a combined 10 Super Bowls, Stanley Cup titles or World Series championships, but not one was accomplished in Pittsburgh.
The Steelers’ six Super Bowl victories were won at neutral sites. The Pirates’ 1971 and 1979 World Series titles were won in Baltimore. The Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 1991 at Minnesota and in 1992 in Chicago.
The last title won by a Pittsburgh team at home was by the 1960 Pirates, when they defeated the New York Yankees 10-9 on Bill Mazeroski’s homer in Game 7 of the World Series.
The Penguins can play a maximum of three home games in the Stanley Cup finals (Games 3, 4 and 6) and thus needed to win four in a row to have any chance of winning the Cup in Pittsburgh.
AWARDS: St. Louis Blues president John Davidson, a longtime local and national NHL commentator before he switched jobs, was selected as the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award winner for his contributions in hockey broadcasting, the Hockey Hall of Fame announced Tuesday.
Davidson, had been an analyst for MSG Network on New York Rangers telecasts, along with NBC and CBC, and had been in the broadcast booth for the past five Winter Olympics.
“John Davidson has had a remarkable career in almost every aspect of professional hockey, and we as a broadcast community benefited immensely from his expertise and professionalism,” said Chuck Kaiton, president of the NHL Broadcasters’ Association. “He is an incredibly deserving recipient of this honour.”
Pittsburgh sports writer Dave Molinari was chosen as this year’s recipient of the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award for print journalism.
Molinari, the lead hockey writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, has covered the Penguins since 1984. He was recognized by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association for his “subtle blend of dry wit and unending sarcasm,” and for chronicling the career of Hall of Fame forward Mario Lemieux.
“The fans of Pittsburgh of been fortunate to have highly skilled players such as Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby,” PHWA president Kevin Allen said in a statement. “And they have been equally fortunate to have a highly skilled writer such as Dave to chronicle their successes.”
Davidson and Molinari will be honoured at a luncheon on Nov. 9, before the Hockey Hall of Fame induction.
AP Sports Writer Alan Robinson contributed to this report.