Stanley Cup Finals – Wings Take Game 5 and Lead Series 3-2
The Detroit Red Wings came back for Game 5 after losing their previous two road games to the Pittsburgh Penguins, clinching a 3-2 series lead with a 5-0 shutout victory. The Wings need only claim one more game to win the series, marking their second consecutive Stanley Cup and their fifth in the last twelve years.
But the Penguins aren’t necessarily going to make it easy. Game 6 is in Pittsburgh’s Mellon Arena, where the Penguins are 8-2. The crowd will also be made up of some 17,000 screaming Penguins fans, supporters who seemed to push the Penguins to their 4-2 Game 3 and 4 victories.
“We struggled a bit in Pittsburgh with the way they respond in their home building,” four-time Stanley Cup champion and Wings center Kris Draper said.
Will Detroit struggle again in Game 6? Most experts weigh in with a Stanley Cup win for the Red Wings, but the big question on people’s minds is whether the Detroit team will take the victory in 6 or 7 games. The Penguins, of course, are shooting for 7.
In order to do so, however, Pittsburgh will need to improve on Saturday’s performance.
The Penguins spent an abysmal 48 minutes in the penalty box, compared to the Wings’ 14. Detroit was able to capitalize on the difference, going 3 for 9 on power plays. The team had entered into the fifth game of the series 1 for 10.
The Wings also benefited from the return of Pavel Datsyuk, who was out for eight games due to a foot injury. Datsyuk was able to set up Daniel Cleary’s goal – the Wings’ first – nearly 14 minutes into the first period. The goal was also Cleary’s first in the Cup Finals.
The Wings clinched their victory by the end of the second period. The team managed four goals during the period, three of which occurred during power plays. First Valtteri Flippula scored 1:44 into the second, assisted by Marian Hossa and Chris Osgood. (Osgood, by the way, made 22 saves in Game 5. The shutout was his 15th, ranking him 3rd overall on the NHL career list. He is also 2nd among active goalies, behind Martin Brodeur with 23.)
The next three of the Wings’ points would be earned during power plays.
Niklas Kronnwall scored 6:11 into the second, assisted by Johan Franzen and Henrik Zetterberg. Just over two minutes later, Brian Rafalski scored again, with assistance from Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom. Then, 15:40 into the period, Zetterberg made the Wings’ fifth – and the game’s final – point. Zetterberg was also last year’s playoff MVP.
The Wings were able to score three goals in a time span of less than seven minutes. Pittsburgh netminder, Marc-Andre Fleury, was brought to the bench after making only 16 saves of the Wings’ 21 shots. He was replaced by Mathieu Garon, who made his playoff appearance since 2004.
Nor did Penguins Captain Sidney Crosby stun fans with his playoff performance; the young captain has yet to score in the series, and went minus-2 with just one shot at the net in Game 5. Teammate Evgenie Malkin, who leads the NHL with 35 playoff points, took 3 minor penalties during Saturday’s game.
But the Penguins aren’t concerned that Game 5 frustration will carry over into the rest of the series.
“I think they’ll be fine,” Pittsburgh veteran forward, Bill Guerin, said of Crosby and Malkin. “These guys are beyond their years. They know how to handle situations like this. They’ve proved they can bounce back from a tough game.”
“The situation is pretty clear for us,” Crosby said bluntly. “We have to go home and be desperate now.”
Game 6 is Tuesday night.