PITTSBURGH — This Stanley Cup final won't be a duplicate of last year's, and a momentum-swinging period by the Penguins put in doubt whether there will be a repeat champion.
Jordan Staal's short-handed goal during back-to-back Detroit power plays started Pittsburgh's comeback, and the Penguins scored three goals in less than six minutes of the second period to win 4-2 Thursday night and tie the best-of-seven series at two games each.
Evgeni Malkin, enjoying the best postseason since Wayne Gretzky in 1993, and Sidney Crosby had a goal and an assist each to help rally the Penguins from a 2-1 deficit a year to the day the Red Wings raised the Stanley Cup in Pittsburgh by winning Game 6.
Tyler Kennedy also scored and Marc-Andre Fleury, with his second straight impressive game, made 37 saves.
Until Game 4, the final followed the same pattern as last year: Detroit won the first two at home then dropped Game 3 in Pittsburgh. But the Red Wings couldn't follow up their 2-1 road victory in last year's Game 4, one decided largely when they killed off a lengthy Pittsburgh five-on-three advantage, and now this final is the best of three.
Game 5 is Saturday night in Detroit, with Game 6 in Pittsburgh on Tuesday after the series' first two-day break.
"It's a race to four (wins) now," the Penguins' Pascal Dupuis said.
The Red Wings were done in by a bad second period and dreadful special teams. Pittsburgh has converted on 4 of 9 power plays, and this game swung when the Penguins got a goal — and the Red Wings didn't — during 3:59 of continuous Detroit power-play time.
With Detroit up 2-1 after goals by Darren Helm and Brad Stuart less than three minutes apart to end the first and start the second, Staal — who had only two goals in 20 playoff games — got loose after Max Talbot's up-ice pass.
Staal used his lengthy stride to thread two defenders and beat Chris Osgood at 8:35 of the second.
"Max made a great play … and I lowered my head and went for it," Staal said.
Staal's goal changed a major chance for Detroit to seize control not only of the game but the series, and the 17,132 jammed into a suddenly rocking Mellon Arena sensed how big the play might be.
"That was a big momentum changer for us," Talbot said. "The building was so loud, it gave us a lot of emotion."
The Penguins finished off killing the second power play, and, less than a minute later, Crosby and Malkin worked a two-on-one rush for Crosby's 15th goal of the playoffs and 30th point. With 35 points, Malkin has more than any player since Gretzky had 40 in 1993.
Kennedy, a Staal linemate who had no goals in five games, finished it off with Pittsburgh's third goal in a span of 5:37 by scoring off two quick passes by Crosby and Chris Kunitz.
Meanwhile, Red Wings star Pavel Datsyuk missed his sixth straight game because of a foot injury. He was scratched just minutes before the game.
|Series tied 2-2|
First Period—1, Pittsburgh, Malkin 14 (Letang, Staal), 2:39 (pp). 2, Detroit, Helm 4, 18:19. Penalties—Kronwall, Det (tripping), 1:12; Eaton, Pit (cross-checking), 11:09; Ericsson, Det (high-sticking), 16:27; Guerin, Pit (high-sticking), 16:37.
Second Period—3, Detroit, Stuart 3 (Zetterberg, Rafalski), :46. 4, Pittsburgh, Staal 3 (Talbot, Eaton), 8:35 (sh). 5, Pittsburgh, Crosby 15 (Malkin), 10:34. 6, Pittsburgh, Kennedy 4 (Crosby, Kunitz), 14:12. Penalties—Malkin, Pit (hooking), 5:44; Orpik, Pit (tripping), 7:43.
Third Period—None. Penalties—Kronwall, Det (hooking), 18:27; Cleary, Det (tripping), 20:00; Orpik, Pit (roughing), 20:00. Shots on Goal—Detroit 19-9-11—39. Pittsburgh 11-11-9—31. Power-play opportunities—Detroit 0 of 4; Pittsburgh 1 of 3. Goalies—Detroit, Osgood 14-6-0 (31 shots-27 saves). Pittsburgh, Fleury 14-7-0 (39-37). A—17,132 (16,940).
Avs hire Sacco as coach
DENVER — Joe Sacco, 40, who spent 13 years in the league, was introduced as the new coach of the Avalanche, a day after the club fired Tony Granato.
Flanked by new general manager Greg Sherman and assistant coach Sylvain Lefebvre, Sacco talked about carving out a revamped identity for a team that's coming off its worst finish since moving to Denver in 1995.
"We want to be a team that plays with a lot of energy. We want to play on our toes; we don't want to play on our heels," Sacco said. "We want to be a team that attacks."
He inherits a squad that missed the playoffs for a second time in three seasons as it stumbled to a last-place finish in the West.
Bruins: Forward David Krejci had hip surgery and needs four to six months to recover.