DETROIT – The Pittsburgh Penguins might not miss Marian Hossa after all.
Jordan Staal had a hat trick in the third period and set up Ruslan Fedotenko’s winning goal with 1:11 in overtime, lifting the Penguins to a 7-6 comeback win over the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night. “We have a lot of talent on this team and we have good heart,” Staal said.
Hossa chose to sign a one-year deal worth about US$7.5 million with the Stanley Cup champions and turned down nearly $50 million over seven seasons to stay with the runner-up Penguins, saying he had a better chance to win a title in Detroit.
“There are no hard feelings from this dressing room,” Staal insisted.
Hossa had two assists against his former teammates, and insisted they became merely opponents just five months after playing with them.
“After the puck dropped for the first faceoff, I didn’t even think about it,” Hossa said. “I just tried to focus on my game.”
The Red Wings kept their team together and added Hossa, seemingly giving them a chance to be the NHL’s first repeat champions since Detroit did it a decade ago.
Pittsburgh, meanwhile, lost some key players other than Hossa and its top two defencemen – Sergei Gonchar and Ryan Whitney – are out with injuries.
“They still have a lot of skill up front with good, quick forwards,” Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom said. “And they have young players that are getting better.”
Such as Staal, who turned 20 two months ago.
Detroit’s Jiri Hudler scored midway through the third, seemingly sealing the victory by giving the defending champions a two-goal lead in the Stanley Cup rematch.
“I thought it was going to be over when Hudler scored,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Then we self-destructed.”
Staal’s second goal with 4:09 left pulled Pittsburgh within one, then he forced overtime by scoring with 23 seconds left on a rebound off Lidstrom.
“It seemed like everything I touched went in,” said Staal, who had just two goals in his first 14 games thanks in part to some poor luck with the puck.
Staal set up the overtime goal by lifting Pavel Datsyuk’s stick from behind, snagging the puck away and setting up Fedotenko’s one-timer with a perfect pass to the right circle.
Hossa wasn’t surprised to see Staal perform better than any of the stars on the ice.
“He’s always in the shadow, but he’s a good player – maybe underrated,” Hossa said. “He plays with power and takes the puck well to the net.”
Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury and Detroit’s Chris Osgood both faced 34 shots.
Sidney Crosby scored the game’s first goal at 4:34 of the first, giving Pittsburgh its only lead in regulation.
Darren McCarty, Tomas Holmstrom, Johan Franzen, Henrik Zetterberg, and Datsyuk also scored for Detroit.
Maxime Talbot scored off his skate, and Evgeni Malkin extended his points streak to 11 games with a goal in the third period that went Pittsburgh’s way after Staal scored with a two-man advantage at 6:57.
“All of a sudden they started skating, got the 5-on-3 goal and we couldn’t stop them,” Hossa said. “We have to learn from it, but it’s early in the season. We have to turn the page and get ready for the next game.”
Notes: Pittsburgh D Rob Scuderi barely got off the ice in the first period after Lidstrom’s slap shot hit him on the left ankle, he returned to play four-plus minutes later, but finished with just under seven minutes of ice time. “We don’t know anything yet,” coach Michel Therrien said. …. Franzen played after missing five games with a sprained left knee. He has 34 goals in his last 41 games, including the playoffs. … Plenty of Penguins fans made their way into Joe Louis Arena, which had pockets of empty seats in both the upper and lower levels in another sign of how badly the Motor City’s economy is sagging. … Staal’s previous hat trick was at Toronto two seasons ago as a rookie, when he scored 29 goals before falling to a 12-goal scorer last year. … Detroit F Dan Cleary (eye infection) was scratched for the first time this season. … Malkin has 21 points in 11 games, giving him an NHL-high 24 points this season. … Lidstrom had two assists, giving him 949 career points to move past injured teammate Chris Chelios for ninth place among the highest scoring blue-liners in NHL history.