Home Pittsburgh Sports College Basketball Red Wings storm past injury-depleted Penguins 4-1

Red Wings storm past injury-depleted Penguins 4-1

Evgeni Malkin scored on a breakaway to end the first period with the Penguins up 1-0, but the Red Wings stormed back with three third period goals to top Pittsburgh 4-1 at Consol Energy Center Tuesday night.

Over the past few weeks, the Penguins have had trouble starting games well. Tuesday night, they had trouble finishing one as they allowed four unanswered goals after gaining an early lead and lost 4-1 to the Detroit Red Wings. It is the first time the Wings have won in Pittsburgh in three seasons. It was also the Pens’ third loss in four games and their first regulation loss to a Western Conference opponent this season. The game also marked another loss to an upper-echelon team.

“We didn’t finish (the game) off in the third period,” Penguins’ forward Steve Sullivan said.

Not that they would ever use injuries as an excuse, but it’s important to note that Pittsburgh is still missing two of their top-four defensemen, Zbynek Michalek and Kris Letang, as well as captain Sidney Crosby. All three have concussion-related problems. Despite that disadvantage and the lopsided score, the Pens played solid hockey most of the night and limited Detroit to only 5 shots in the second period. But a few mistakes by their opponent were all the Red Wings needed.

“We talk about that amongst our team all year long, it’s always going to come down to one play,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “It’s always going to be one play, and how we execute and how we play. The details are extremely important to being able to play in that context. The next play, the wall play, getting the detail in our game is important. It essentially comes down to one or two details one way. When you have two good teams in a hockey game it’s going to be that tight. Every detail and every play’s important.”

On Tuesday night, there were basically three plays – a defensive zone turnover, a power play chance and an odd-man break, that led to the Pens’ defeat. A couple of bad bounces didn’t help, either.

Malkin, who scored the Pens’ lone goal and was questionable for the game against Detroit, had multiple chances to put his team ahead. The first opportunity came on the power play early in the second period. Malkin’s shot on the man-advantage hit the inside of the right post just gently enough that it barely bounced back out into the blue paint. Malkin dove to stuff the rebound into an empty cage, but Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard beat him there to make an excellent stick save. Number 71 had a similar opportunity early in the third period when the score was tied at one.

“I had (nine) shots and a couple posts, but I tried,” Malkin said. “It’s bad luck. Two posts is very bad luck.”

Malkin’s bad luck was the Wings’ gain as Pavel Datsyuk scored at 16:01 of the second period to knot the game at one going into the second intermission. After Todd Bertuzzi forced the puck from Matt Niskanen along the boards in the Penguins’ zone, he fed Datsyuk, who sent a backhand shot past Marc-Andre Fleury’s stick side.

The game opened up even more for Detroit when Niskanen went off for holding 4:51 into the third period. It took Johan Franzen 24 seconds to capitalize on that chance, scoring what would prove to be the game-winner.    

Dan Cleary scored next on what was basically a three-on-one break for Detroit, although Jordan Staal managed to get back into the play just in time for the goal. Cleary also added the empty netter with six seconds left in the game.

Evgeni Malkin gave the Penguins their only goal when he scored with 4.5 seconds left in the first period. Brooks Orpik blocked a shot in the Pens’ defensive zone to start the play, and Neal fed Malkin for his 2-on-1 with Chris Kunitz. Malkin opted to shoot, burying his 11th goal of the season at 19:55.

The Pens are now 1-2 since Crosby’s most recent setback. They return to the ice Friday at Ottawa.
    
Three Stars:
1. Pavel Datsyuk
2. Jimmy Howard
3. Dan Cleary

SCORESHEET:
Goals:
PIT
: Evgeni Malkin (11)
DET: Pavel Datsyuk (9), Johan Franzen (14), Dan Cleary (6, 7)
Assists:
PIT
: James Neal, Brooks Orpik
DET: Todd Bertuzzi, Pavel Datsyuk, Chris Conner, Darren Helm, Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall

IN THE NET:
PIT
: Marc-Andre Fleury (L) 21-24
DET: Jimmy Howard (W) 25-26

SPECIAL TEAMS:
PIT
: 0-4
DET: 1-2

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