Malkin, Crosby lead the way in Pens' Game 4 win
THREE STAR SELECTIONS
1st Marc-Andre Fleury
Goalie - PIT
SAVE PCTG: 0.949
2nd Sidney Crosby
Center - PIT
GOALS: 1 | PTS: 2
ASST: 1 | SOG: 3
3rd Evgeni Malkin
Center - PIT
GOALS: 1 | PTS: 2
ASST: 1 | SOG: 6
Phil Coffey | NHL.com Editorial Director
PITTSBURGH – The greatest difference from the 2008 Stanley Cup Final to '09 is a resurgent Evgeni Malkin, and as a direct result, the Pittsburgh Penguins have evened the series with a 4-2 win in Game 4.
Malkin had a goal and an assist Thursday night, as did Sidney Crosby, as the Penguins' stars played brilliantly in scattering a 2-1 Detroit lead in the second period and then racing away for the convincing victory with three-straight goals.
Tyler Kennedy and Jordan Staal also scored for the Penguins, who received strong goaltending from Marc-Andre Fleury, who made 37 saves.
Darren Helm and Brad Stuart scored for the Red Wings and Chris Osgood made 28 saves.
Malkin, who struggled in every way, shape and form in the '08 Final, now has 2 goals and 5 assists in the first four games of the Final, while Crosby has now upped his totals to 1 goal and 2 assists.
As a result, the Stanley Cup Final is now a best-of-3 and Game 5 will be played Saturday in Detroit (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS).
Seismic momentum shifts marked the second period as the Red Wings stunned the crowd with an early goal, but then were battered by a tidal wave of Penguins, who scored three times for a 4-2 lead after 40 minutes.
Just 46 second into the second, Detroit defenseman Brad Stuart scored with a rising shot from the right point through a double screen that boosted the Red Wings into a 2-1 lead and had given Detroit two goals within a 2:27 span.
Things seemed to be going in Detroit's way when Malkin was whistled for hooking at 5:44 and then Brooks Orpik was called for tripping at 7:43. But the power play actually worked against the Red Wings as a fresh Jordan Staal split the tired pair of Brian Rafalski and Nicklas Lidstrom and break in on Osgood. Staal fended off Rafalski and got the puck through the goalie's legs to tie the score, 2-2.
Malkin made a beautiful pass to Sidney Crosby on a 2 on 1 break at 10:34 to put Pittsburgh in the lead, 3-2. Malkin keyed the play by getting the puck past Stuart at the Pittsburgh blue line and then it was off to the races.
Niklas Kronwall laid out to attempt to block a pass across to Crosby, but Malkin's pass was on the mark and then in the net past a sprawling Osgood on Crosby's redirect.
With Mellon Arena rockin' on every play, the Penguins struck again for a two-goal edge at 14:12 on a crisp tic-tac-toe play finished off by Tyler Kennedy. Chris Kuntiz got to a loose puck in the Detroit end and found Crosby in the middle. Whipping the puck on to Crosby's stick, he returned the favor and passed to Kennedy in the left circle for his fourth goal of the playoffs and a 4-2 lead.
Malkin and Darren Helm traded goals in the first, with the Penguins jumping on top and seeming to have more jump throughout the first period.
For Malkin, his 14th goal of the postseason as penalty-killing woes continue to hinder the Red Wings. Kronwall was off for tripping Malkin at 1:12, presenting the hot Pittsburgh power play, that scored twice in Game 3, with an early chance they converted.
Malkin went along the goal line and behind the net after dishing the puck to Staal. Osgood made the stop on Staal's shot and the ensuing rebound from a shot in the slot from defenseman Kris Letang. The rebound of this shot was the problem, sliding to Osgood's right, where Malkin had emerged to backhand the puck into the net at 2:39.
It took the Red Wings the better part of the first to get even, but the impressive Helm continued to burnish his reputation as a clutch player at 18:19 when he intercepted a Rob Scuderi clearing attempt and, using Dan Cleary as a screen, found a sliver of net on Marc-Andrey Fleury's glove side to knot the proceedings after 20 minutes.
Between the goals, the Red Wings produced an early lead in shots 13-4, but the period ended 19-11 for the Wings as the Penguins picked up the pace and put some good pressure on the Detroit net, with the best opportunity coming with 4:15 left when Malkin scooped up a Kronwall giveaway and set up Ruslan Fedotenko, who was stopped by Osgood.
A puckhandling mistake by Osgood nearly proved costly with just 22 seconds left when he dropped to smother a shot, only to have it come loose with Malkin bearing down on him. Osgood managed to get the puck out of trouble, swatting the puck into the corner.
Pittsburgh faced back-to-back kills in the second period when Evgeni Malkin and Brooks Orpik took penalties 1:58 apart. The Penguins’ penalty killers held Detroit to one shot on the first power play before Malkin stormed out of the box and stole the puck from Brian Rafalski at the attacking blue line for an unsuccessful breakaway. A minute later, still on the Orpik kill, Adam Eaton rimmed a clear up the boards, where it was claimed by Max Talbot, who fed a head-man pass to Jordan Staal for another breakaway. Staal put a half-speed forehand shot past Chris Osgood to tie the game at 2-2.
Tyler Kennedy didn't see much ice time in the first two periods -- just eight shifts -- as Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma shortened his bench to get his stars out on the ice more. But he made the most of the time he did get by scoring Pittsburgh's third goal. Kennedy pressured Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg as the Wings chased the puck into their own zone. That pressure forced Zetterberg to make a blind bank off the wall, which was claimed just inside the blue line by Kris Kunitz, who made a sharp cross-ice pass to Sidney Crosby, who one-timed the puck to Kennedy, on the opposite post, for an easy one-timer goal.
Detroit coach Mike Babcock tried to slow down the Evgeni Malkin express by putting Henrik Zetterberg against Malkin whenever the situation allowed. Bylsma answered by juggling his lines -- sometimes putting Crosby and Malkin together or placing Malkin with Crosby's wingers. When all was said and done, the Penguins had won the matchup battle. See below.
Pittsburgh has 10 goals in the series and Malkin has figured in seven of them. In Game 4, Malkin followed up his three-point performance in Game 3 by scoring the game-opening goal and assisting on a second-period goal by Sidney Crosby on a 2-on-1 rush.
When Detroit's Brad Stuart scored on a slapper in the first minute of the second period, Detroit had its fourth 2-1 lead in as many games of the Stanley Cup Final. Even more telling, Stuart's goal was Detroit's ninth regular-strength goal of the series. Pittsburgh had just two even-strength goals at that point.
--Shawn P. Roarke
LET'S GO PENS !!!