Mon, Jun 08, 2009 - Page 20 News List

Full-strength Red Wings dominate Penguins in Game 5


Enter Pavel Datsyuk, and suddenly everything is right with the Red Wings.

Detroit’s leading scorer and finalist for the league’s most valuable player in the regular season returned to the lineup with two assists, inspiring a 5-0 thrashing of the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday that gave the Detroit Red Wings a 3-2 series lead in the Stanley Cup finals.

What had seemed to be a faltering team of tired veterans now stands within 60 tantalizing minutes of repeating as Stanley Cup champions.

Datsyuk got a roar from the crowd in the game’s first minute when he skated out to play on Henrik Zetterberg’s wing, two Red Wings stars aligned against the Penguins stars Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. Datsyuk had missed the previous seven games, including the first four of the final, with a bruised foot he sustained when blocking a shot in the semi-final series against Chicago.

Just 13 minutes, 22 seconds into the game, Datsyuk set up Detroit’s first goal. He took a pass from defenseman Brian Rafalski in the neutral zone, then placed a perfect saucer pass to Dan Cleary, who shot between the legs of Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik. Cleary’s drive beat goalie Marc-Andre Fleury to the glove side, a shot Fleury probably could have done better on.

How much does Datsyuk mean to the Red Wings? One measure: This past season he led Detroit in scoring for a fourth straight year. The only other Red Wings to do that were Gordie Howe and Steve Yzerman.

Zetterberg contributed a goal and assist and seemed fresh again after an error-prone and fatigued Game 4 on Thursday.

For the Red Wings, the second period was a perfect storm, as perfect as the Penguins’ second-period rally in Game 4. Valtteri Filppula, Niklas Kronwall, Brian Rafalski and Zetterberg scored.

After the fifth goal, Fleury was pulled by Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma and replaced by the little-used Mathieu Garon. Fleury wound up stopping 16 of 21 shots.

Chris Osgood, meanwhile, regained his form of the first two games. He stopped all 22 Pittsburgh shots.

The Red Wings’ power play was also rejuvenated, scoring three times in five advantages after going just 1 for 10 against Pittsburgh previously.

The Penguins did not help matters, with Malkin, Crosby and Max Talbot taking chippy penalties out of frustration. Malkin elbowed Johan Franzen in the head; Crosby slashed Zetterberg in the leg; Talbot gave Datsyuk a two-handed chop on the ankle.

The reversal of fortune in Game 5 from Game 4 was vast. In the first four games, four of the Red Wings’ 10 goals were scored by rookies and the veterans were overwhelmed by Pittsburgh’s youth corps.

But Datsyuk’s return rejuvenated the old dependables like Rafalski, Nicklas Lidstrom and Marian Hossa, who consistently outshone Malkin and Crosby.

It didn’t seem that way at first. The Wings survived heavy pressure through the game’s first five minutes, almost all of which was played in the Detroit end. Malkin started it, stealing the puck from Brad Stuart in the opening seconds. A couple of minutes later, Malkin set up Ruslan Fedotenko in front, but Fedotenko could not finish.

Eventually, the Red Wings started to give as good as they got, both territorially and physically. In the rugged first period Pittsburgh was credited with 10 hits, Detroit with 15, including a Datsyuk check that leveled Malkin in the 12th minute.

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