PITTSBURGH – Need a win? Call Sid the Kid.
On a day when his closest rival for best player in the world, Washington’s Alex Ovechkin, was in town to collect the Art Ross and Rocket Richard Trophies, Sidney Crosby let it be known he is No. 1.
Try to upstage him in his own town? Forget about it.
Crosby shot his fifth and sixth goals of the playoffs as the Penguins got themselves back into the final with a 3-2 victory – their 17th in a row at home. The final scored actually flattered the Red Wings. Pittsburgh was unable to bury numerous scoring opportunities throughout the game.
That said, the Red Wings deserve full marks for hanging tough. In the end, they were one Tomas Holmstrom post shot away from forcing overtime.
The biggest difference for the Penguins in Game 3 compared to the first two contests was their ability to get the puck deep in Detroit’s zone and keep it there. At the morning skate, a number of Pens said their goal was to generate scoring chances off the down low cycle and that is exactly what they did.
In fact, Pittsburgh’s constant pressure caused the Red Wings to make several bad passes up the middle, many of which were intercepted and allowed the Penguins to re-establish pressure in the Detroit end.
While Crosby was unquestionably the game’s first star, it was lesser-known Adam Hall, best known for his checking and penalty-killing abilities, who drew the largest crowd around his dressing stall after the game. That’s because his bank-shot, in off Detroit goalie Chris Osgood, was the winning goal. Hall called it the biggest goal of his career, but then turned his attention to Crosby.
“When you see how hard he works, not just getting goals and points, but how hard he works on all aspects of the game, then you really feel good to see him get rewarded the way he did tonight,” Hall said.
The Penguins were actually being outshot 9-1 in the first period when coach Michel Therrien threw his Super Line of Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Marian Hossa out for a shift. For the first time in the game the Penguins were able to sustain pressure in the Detroit zone and generate their team’s first quality scoring chance.
It turned the tide of the game and drew a standing ovation. Therrien put that line out a few more times and on each occasion they were able to hem the Red Wings into their zone.
“I wanted to change the momentum of the game,” Therrien said. “After that line came off, I thought we had better energy in the final 10 minutes of the first period and we were able to carry the momentum over to the second period.”
• Best shift of the game goes to Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik, who dished out five hits in one skate around. Orpik, Pittsburgh’s most physical player, had a game-high seven hits while Scary Gary (Roberts, that is) had five.
• Legendary coach Scotty Bowman dropped the puck in the pre-game ceremonial faceoff. Bowman coached both the Penguins and the Red Wings to their last Stanley Cups.
• Ticket prices for Game 3 took a hit after the Penguins lost the first two games of the final. Tickets that were going for $1,500 on the Internet had dropped to $800-1,000 by Wednesday afternoon and tickets that had been selling for $1,000 had dipped to $400-500. That said, there was 17,132 in attendance, the Penguins 65th consecutive sellout.
• After receiving the Mark Messier Leadership Award Wednesday afternoon, Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin told the media his decision to return to Toronto may depend on who is named GM of the team.
He also hinted that it is not out of the realm of possibility he would play for another team. That should really come as no surprise. When Sundin invoked his no-trade clause at the deadline this season, he said he did so because if he wins the Stanley Cup, he did not want to do so as a rent-a-player, but rather be part of the entire journey.
Also, since he signed with Toronto, he wanted to play out his contract with the Leafs. He could, conceivably, start a fresh journey with another team for the 2008-09 season.
• Having the two teams cross paths as they skate onto the ice to start the game is just plain dumb. Imagine Sidney Crosby or Nicklas Lidstrom getting steamrolled by an opponent before the game even begins.
THE HOCKEY NEWS GAME 3 THREE STARS
1. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh
2. Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh
3. Johan Franzen, Detroit
THN senior writer Mike Brophy is on the road following the Stanley Cup final and will be filing daily reports until a champion is crowned. To read his other entries, click HERE.
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