Four games down in the Stanley Cup Finals and so far the two participants have held serve on home ice. Detroit came out victorious over the weekend with a pair of 3-1 wins, now Pittsburgh has answered with a pair of 4-2 wins.
Good…I was hoping this would go seven anyway!
Jordan Staal’s shorthanded breakaway goal at 8:35 of the second tied the game a two and opened a three-goal explosion by the Penguins. 1:59 later, Sid Crosby broke the tie and then Tyler Kennedy provided some cushion at 14:12 of the middle frame, a beautiful tic-tac-toe style tally from Crosby and Chris Kunitz.
Evgeni Malkin opened up the scoring early in the game with his 14th of the playoffs…he now also has 35 overall points after he assisted on Crosby’s first goal of this series.
The Pittsburgh win set up the all-important pivotal game five on Saturday night and also insures that they will get one last chance to cheer their Penguins on one last time in Tuesday night’s game…and one more chance to “BOO” Marian Hossa, who shunned them last summer in order to join forces with the Red Wings.
But so far in the four games against his former team, Hossa hasn’t given Pittsburgh fans any reason to quiet their vocal disapproval of him. Outside of a pair of secondary assists Sunday night, he’s been held off the scoresheet. He’s been held without a goal during seventeen of the twenty playoff games so far for the Wings and has been held scoreless in the last five games.
The Wings are going to need Hossa to step it up a notch if they’re going to get Big Mo to swing back in their favor.
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 37 of the 39 shots Detroit was able to get through on him Thursday night, this after turning away 27 of 29 last Tuesday in game three. Pittsburgh will need more of that out of him as they head back to Motown over the weekend.
Continuing Conn Smythe Consideration
We’ve discussed possible Conn Smythe candidates over the course of the past couple days. As you’ll recall, I placed Chris Osgood as my front-runner going into the fourth game of the Finals. Obviously there is still a very good case to be made for the Red Wing netminder…however, one Mr. Malkin is making a serious run at this as well with 14 goals and 21 assists so far this spring.
Malkin’s performance throughout the playoffs has been both impressive and consistent…recording a goal and/or assist in 17 of the 21 playoff games so far.
No Need To get Antsy Over Salmela
There is one less Thrasher player to me concerned about in regards to their contract status. Don Waddell has accomplished his first contract deal of the offseason, inking defensman Anssi Salmela to a multi-year deal.
And there was much rejoicing!
psssssssst… Hey Don, now that you have that pile of work off your desk, let’s get working on that Reasoner guy new, eh?
Weekend Reading Assignments
Darren Eliot writes that smarts and a little luck helped to open the door for Joe Nieuwendyk, the Stars new GM.
Puck Daddy witnesses Octopus brutality while in Pittsburgh.
The NHL’s general managers have decided against proposed headshot penalty.
Terry Frei of ESPN.com asks…is too much draft hype a bad thing?