Stanley bound for Detroit
PITTSBURGH — Too European. Too soft. Too old. Too slow. No, maybe just too good. The Detroit Red Wings won their 11th Stanley Cup with a 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins last night at Mellon Arena.
Henrik Zetterberg, the playoff scoring leader, led the way with a goal and an assist to give Detroit the best-of-seven Stanley Cup final 4-2.
With 10 Europeans in the lineup, the most ever for a cup champion, Zetterberg winning the Conn Smythe and Nick Lidstrom becoming the first European to captain his team to the Cup, hockey’s globalization is surely complete.
“It’s a global game,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “That’s old adage.
“They won the Olympics, the world championships, they’ve won everything. Why wouldn’t they win this?”
For Lidstrom, who won his fourth Cup along with Darren McCarty, Kirk Maltby, Kris Draper and Tomas Holmstrom, the win says more about the organization than the players’ passports.
“We’ve proven that under the new system, where it’s more of an even playing field, that the team really responded well,” Lidstrom said. “It shows we’re still able to play well. People thought we’d drop off.”
Last night they made that statement by beating the Pens at Mellon Arena for the second straight game. It was a textbook road performance.
“We just had the mind-set we’re going to play a good game,” Zetterberg said. “We had a great start and just kept going.”
One thing the Wings were focused on was getting the game’s initial goal for the first time in three games.
Pittsburgh defenceman Darryl Sydor provided the opening with an early penalty.
Brian Rafalski made Pittsburgh pay by cruising down from the left point to take Zetterberg’s pass and then snapped his shot over MarcAndre Fleury’s glove hand at 5:03 of the first period.
Just under four minutes later, Pittsburgh got a five-onthree opportunity to tie it after Dallas Drake and Draper were whistled for penalties only 27 seconds apart.
But for the second time in the series, the Penguins were inept with two extra skaters, getting only one shot by Evgeni Malkin.
“That five-on-three was huge,” Draper said. “I sat there holding my breath the whole 90 seconds.”
The Wings played a grinding game in the second period, willing to work the boards diligently at either end.
Detroit’s Brad Stuart sent gasps through the Igloo when he hammered Crosby with bone-jarring check behind the Wings’ goal that left Crosby on the bench for a few shifts.
While he was out, speedy Detroit forward Valtteri Filppula beat defenceman Brooks Orpik to Mikael Samuelsson’s rebound and shovelled it through Fleury at 8:07.
Detroit was in control at that point, but Malkin made things interesting heading into the third period with a power-play goal at 15:26.
“We had to battle every single game to get out of this series,” Osgood said.
But as they have throughout, Detroit dominated the third period.
Zetterberg scored the critical third goal when his shot leaked through Fleury and was then pushed in by the Pens’ goalie as he fell backward at 7:36.
Marian Hossa scored a late power-play goal to give the Wings a scare, but this time there would be not late-game heartbreak.
“We got beat by a quality team,” Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien said. “They were tough to play against and the hockey god was not on our side tonight.
“I’m really proud of our group, though. They grew up really quickly over the past two years and they paid a price to get better. The future is bright with these young kids.”
Zetterberg was more than happy to see it all end last night.
“It’s been a long [battle], and a long season,” said Zetterberg. “Especially a couple of nights ago in Joe Louis Arena was devstating. But we found a way to battle back, and it’s just a great feeling right now.” It didn’t come easily. “We played four tough series. I can’t even remember who we played last, it seems so long ago,” said Babcock. “The battle we got from Nashville, Colorado, Dallas, and now to play a talented, talented group like this . . . they just keep getting better and better.”