This win was huge. Words cannot express the ever important Game 3 of a series when one team is up 2-0, especially in the Stanley Cup Finals. But tonight this is what I have come up with: Mission Accomplished.
As I said earlier, this game was a must win. No one comes back from a 3-0 deficit. I don't think emotionally anyone can. You try to salvage a little hope, but know the inevitable is afoot.
The Pens came out tonight and looked great. You could tell they fed off the energy of the fans and the importance of the game. After a some quality play on both sides of the ice Max Talbot sunk one from a nice pass from Malkin tallying the first goal. The crowd was up. Hope was restored and all was well. That is, until Zetterberg sucked the life right back out with a goal of his own just 1:31 later. But that didn't snuff out the play of the Pens. They came back and attacked even further. Had a few good chances but so didn't Detroit. Which unfortunately ended up capitalizing at the 11:33 mark from a Franzen goal with just .09 seconds left in thier power play. At this point many Pens fans sat down. They cheered, but reluctantly. Even the Pens fans on Twitter found themselves in a rut. At which point I encourged them with a "Games not over folks, keep your head up" tweet. Crosby had a chance from a Linstrom turnover but didn't 66 it. Shortly thereafter Letang regathered himself from a Malkin cross ice pass and took Osgood five hole, tying the game heading into the second. At this point you had the sense this was going to be a high scoring game.
That is until you reached this period. From the Wings perspective they tightened things up and really put a stop to the Penguins offense. Allowing only 4 shots on goal from the Penguins and creating 14 of their own, albeit unsuccessful. Sammuelson knocked one off the post on a bad turnover...nothing. Nevertheless this period had very few mistakes. Marc Andre Fleury was exceptional this period fending off attacks from Zetterberg and company.
It seemed the momentum shifted quite a bit here. While it looked like the Red Wings were going to keep the intensity from period 2, they however did not. The Pens came out and gained control quickly keeping the puck in the Red Wings zone. Crosby almost 66'd a 136 mph backhand, but nothing. Essentially this was a flip flop period as the Pens got 10 shots on goal and Detroit only 3. It seemed only a matter of time before the Pens were gonna get thiers. That point finally came from a Gonchar howitzer at the 10:29 mark. After that point the Bylsma anchored his defensive strategy by not allowing any clean shots nor let the Wings win any scrubs in front of the net. The Pens allowed basically nothing and then Talbot solidified it with an empty netter.
You could tell the Penguins didn't adjust a whole lot from games 1 and 2. They kept with their game plan: they stayed physical, played aggressive, created chances, and were favored by the hockey gods. Sometimes that all you need. But as I said in my last post, the Pens had their chances and had a little luck been on their side they could be up 2-1. But that's okay. I along with every other website now have increased confidence in the Pens. Not that I lacked, but you will definitely read a different tone from Burnside from ESPN and perhaps even Puckdaddy.
- Kunitz had 11 hits.
- Physical play overall was huge. 36-17
- Even on the faceoffs.
- More shots on goal.