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Pittsburgh Penguins hammer Detroit Red Wings, even Stanley Cup final at two games apiece

Penguins center Jordan Staal scores against Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood in the second period. The Penguins trailed 2-1 in the period but scored three goals in less than six minutes for a 4-2 lead.

Associated Press

Penguins center Jordan Staal scores against Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood in the second period. The Penguins trailed 2-1 in the period but scored three goals in less than six minutes for a 4-2 lead.

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.

Penguins 1 3 0 4
Red Wings 1 1 0 2
Series tied 2-2

First Period1, Pittsburgh, Malkin 14 (Letang, Staal), 2:39 (pp). 2, Detroit, Helm 4, 18:19. PenaltiesKronwall, Det (tripping), 1:12; Eaton, Pit (cross-checking), 11:09; Ericsson, Det (high-sticking), 16:27; Guerin, Pit (high-sticking), 16:37.

Second Period3, 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. PenaltiesMalkin, Pit (hooking), 5:44; Orpik, Pit (tripping), 7:43.

Third PeriodNone. PenaltiesKronwall, Det (hooking), 18:27; Cleary, Det (tripping), 20:00; Orpik, Pit (roughing), 20:00. Shots on GoalDetroit 19-9-11—39. Pittsburgh 11-11-9—31. Power-play opportunitiesDetroit 0 of 4; Pittsburgh 1 of 3. GoaliesDetroit, Osgood 14-6-0 (31 shots-27 saves). Pittsburgh, Fleury 14-7-0 (39-37). A17,132 (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.

Penguins 4

Red Wings 2

Pittsburgh Penguins hammer Detroit Red Wings, even Stanley Cup final at two games apiece 06/04/09 [Last modified: Thursday, June 4, 2009 11:55pm]
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