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Detroit downs Pittsburgh again

Corey Masisak The Washington Times 01.06.2009 19:15
Getty Images Valtteri Filppula (right) scored in the second period to lift the Red Wings to a Game 2 victory Sunday night.

Getty Images Valtteri Filppula (right) scored in the second period to lift the Red Wings to a Game 2 victory Sunday night.

Playing so soon after the end of the conference finals was supposed to favor the Pittsburgh Penguins because of their youth, an extra day of rest and a superior health situation. Games on back-to-back nights to open the Stanley Cup Finals were supposed to be an advantage for the same reasons.

Turns out none of that mattered, and the Detroit Red Wings are halfway to winning the Stanley Cup for the fifth time in 12 seasons. Great depth has negated injury problems, and goaltender Chris Osgood has outperformed the guy at the other end of the ice.

Osgood made 31 saves, and the veteran-laden Red Wings received three goals from players 25 years old or younger in a 3-1 victory Sunday night at sold-out Joe Louis Arena to take a 2-0 series lead. Teams that have won the first two games of the finals at home have captured the Cup 31 of 32 times.

"I think [the back-to-back games] has hurt us - we looked exhausted out there," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "To me that is what will can do for you. We talked about it before the game that you just have to will yourself to do it."

Last season, Detroit swept the first two games from Pittsburgh in this barn as Osgood posted back-to-back shutouts. This season, he yielded only two goals in the first two contests and both nights made spectacular saves, particularly on Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

The Red Wings took control Sunday with a pair of goals in the second period. After a long stretch without any sustained pressure, Detroit finally kept the puck in Pittsburgh's zone for a long shift and forced an icing call.

With the Penguins unable to swap out their tired players, Detroit's Darren Helm won the faceoff to Jiri Hudler. Jonathan Ericsson took a pass and put a shot past Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury at 4:21. Ericsson missed the final game of the Western Conference finals because of an emergency appendectomy, but he was back in the lineup for Game 1 just three days later.


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