for this game

Samuelsson, Osgood shine as Red Wings tame Penguins

May 25, 2008 - 5:26 AM
DETROIT (Ticker) -- After Marc-Andre Fleury literally stumbled out of the gate, the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins followed suit against the Detroit Red Wings.

Mikael Samuelsson scored twice and Chris Osgood made 19 saves as the Red Wings skated to a 4-0 victory over the Penguins in Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals on Saturday.

Daniel Cleary and Henrik Zetterberg also tallied for the Western Conference champion Red Wings, who host Game Two on Monday.

Detroit, which outshot Pittsburgh, 25-7, over the final 40 minutes, improved to 8-1 at home this postseason.

"They're a good hockey team," Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby said. "They play tight. I don't think we came here expecting an easy series. For sure, they played a tight-checking game. But that's playoff hockey. You still have to find ways around that."

Fleury made 32 saves for the Penguins, who went 0-for-5 on the power play and allowed a shorthanded goal.

"I don't know if it was the nerves, but definitely that was the worst performance of the playoffs," Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien said. "We didn't compete like we were supposed to compete. It's a good lesson."

"We tried to keep them on the outside and, for the most part, we did that," Zetterberg said. "They had a lot of opportunities on the power play and we played good on the PK. And again, Ozzie came up huge for us, especially on the PK."

While leading the Penguins down the runway prior to the start of the game, Fleury tripped as he stepped onto the ice. Little did he know that would be indicative of things to come.

After a scoreless first period, the Red Wings got all the offense they needed with just under seven minutes remaining in the second.

Following a long shift, Pittsburgh's Tyler Kennedy and Jordan Staal went off for a line change. Possessing the puck at center ice, Samuelsson took advantage.

The Swede skated down the left wing and went behind the net before emerging near the right goalpost. As Fleury attempted to move across the crease, Samuelsson banked the puck off his left pad and into the net at 13:01 for his third goal of the playoffs and a 1-0 edge.

"They were out there like 30, 40 seconds," Samuelsson said of Kennedy and Staal. "I just took a shot at it. (The Penguins) went to the net. I couldn't really cut in front of the net, so I had to go behind. I guess Fleury committed to me a little bit, so I took a chance to throw it at the net, and it went in."

"Bad decision with the puck, bad change," Therrien said. "Those are mental mistakes. Against a team like the Red Wings, you can't do those types of mistakes."

Osgood made that goal stand, turning aside 12 shots in the first period, four in the second and three in the third en route to his second shutout this postseason and 12th career in the playoffs.

"They came out real hard in the first, threw a lot of pucks, had some good chances," Osgood said. "We had to play very, very well in the last two periods and give it everything we've got just to win that game."

"I think the key was the forwards backchecking hard and not giving them a whole lot of time going through the neutral zone," Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "I think we stripped them a few times coming from behind and backchecking and getting the puck from them. That's what you need. You take their time and space away by doing that."

Samuelsson doubled the lead just 2:16 into the third period.

As he and Penguins defenseman Hal Gill collided in the left corner, the puck squirted toward the front of the net. Fleury poked it to Evgeni Malkin in the bottom of the left faceoff circle, but the Hart Trophy finalist was unable to control it.

Samuelsson pounced on the bouncing puck on the doorstep and fired it past Fleury, completing his second multi-goal performance this postseason.

"I don't really know what happened," Samuelsson said. "I went through the forecheck and the puck kind of stayed at me. There were a couple guys there, but they didn't really catch or take the puck there, so I just took it and shot it to the net."

"It was huge," Zetterberg said. "His first one was a beauty, then when he got the second one, it was real big for us to have a two-goal lead."

A former Penguin, the 31-year-old Samuelsson also tallied twice in Game Four of the Western Conference semifinals against the Colorado Avalanche.

"Samy's kind of a streak guy," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "When he scores, he feels good about himself. I thought he played big and strong. He made a real good finish check on the second goal."

"We're in the Finals. It's not always going to be the top guns to score the goals," Pittsburgh's Maxime Talbot said. "Sometimes it's going to be role players, sometimes it's second line. It was proved tonight it was not just about (their top) forwards. They have some depth."

Marian Hossa nearly halved the deficit with 9:02 remaining, but his shot from the right circle immediately after a faceoff rang off the right post.

Cleary sealed the outcome with 2:42 left by scoring a shorthander. Detroit defenseman Brad Stuart dumped the puck into the right corner and it bounced directly to Cleary, who beat Fleury to the short side with a backhander from the right circle for a 3-0 bulge.

"It's always good to score and help the club out," Cleary said of his second goal of the playoffs. "Took some pressure off Pav (Pavel Datsyuk) and Z. It was a real back-breaker for them, especially when they're on the power play because if it's 2-1, the game can change easily."

"You always need people to score goals, and Cleary's been real good for us in the playoffs and has been working real hard, so it's great to see him get that goal," Zetterberg said.

Zetterberg provided the final margin with a man-advantage goal in the final moments. With 13 seconds to go, the Selke Trophy finalist fired a shot from alone in the slot that beat Fleury high to the glove side for his 12th of the playoffs, tying injured teammate Johan Franzen for the league lead.

Entering this postseason, Zetterberg had 15 goals in 40 playoff games.

In search of their fourth championship in 11 seasons, the Red Wings had the first good chance to get on the scoreboard seven minutes into the contest. But Fleury made a right pad save on Kirk Maltby's one-timer from the right faceoff circle, keeping the game scoreless.

An alert play by Osgood kept the Penguins from taking the lead with 6 1/2 minutes remaining in the first period.

Defenseman Sergei Gonchar unleashed a slap shot from the point that sailed wide of the right goalpost. The puck caromed off the end boards, bounced off the chest of Crosby at the right of the crease and headed toward the net before Osgood snagged it with his glove.

"He had a stellar performance for us tonight, especially in that first period when they had (four) power plays," Lidstrom said of Osgood. "He really came up big for us to have the score being tied early on."

The raucous crowd at Joe Louis Arena believed their team had drawn first blood with 4:40 left. But the apparent goal by Lidstrom on a wrist shot from the left circle was waved off. Teammate Tomas Holmstrom was called for goalie interference as he appeared to wedge the blade of his stick between the pads of Fleury before the puck entered the net.

"He's always there," Fleury said of Holmstrom. "I can't focus on him. I've got to try and find the puck and make the saves."

Detroit, obviously, did not agree with the call.

"That's the rule, you can't put your stick in the crease now?" Babcock asked. "Did they change that when I wasn't watching?"

"It has happened before where a goal has been disallowed when Homer's in front," Lidstrom said. "We know we have to continue to go hard to the net, we have to be there for the screens. He's so good at that, too. We need him to do that. He's been doing that for a lot of years and he's going to continue to do that."

On the ensuing power play, Pittsburgh's fourth of the period, Crosby made a pass to Malkin, who was unable to get the puck past Osgood from the doorstep with 3:34 to go.

"We just weren't in sync in the beginning there," Gill said. "We're gonna work on some things, straighten things out and we'll be all right."

"We had some puck luck on the first penalty kills," Babcock said. "Ozzie made some real good saves. ... We didn't move our feet at the start. I thought we were nervous. At home here at the start, you always want to get off to a good start, maybe put a little too much pressure on yourself."

The Penguins survived another scare early in the second. Fleury turned aside Drake's blast just 93 seconds into the session, but Kris Draper grabbed the rebound and unleashed a shot that hit the left post, appeared to skid across the entire crossbar and bounced off the right post without ever entering the net.

Pascal Dupuis had a golden opportunity to score at 6:14 but was denied by Osgood as he took a clear path to the net from the left wing.

Crosby was kept off the scoresheet for just the fifth time in 15 playoff games.

"I probably had some chances early on, and they played tight," he said. "That's playoff hockey. I don't expect it to be easy and skate around there freely. That's hockey, and I expect that."

Despite the fact the Penguins were thrown off their game, Talbot and Jarkko Ruutu were not concerned with the setback.

"Our goal was to win one on the road, and that's what we're going to try to do Monday," Talbot said. "Game Two is right in front of us and we have to figure out how to win that game."

"It's one game. It doesn't matter if you lose 10-0 or if you lose (in) the fourth overtime," Ruutu added. "You just have to learn from the mistakes you made and get ready for the start of the next game."