for this game

Hudler puts Red Wings one win away from Cup

Jun 1, 2008 - 5:23 AM
PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- After falling behind early, the Detroit Red Wings soared back to push the Pittsburgh Penguins to the brink.

Jiri Hudler snapped a tie 2:26 into the third period, leading the Red Wings to a 2-1 triumph Saturday over the Penguins in Game Four of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Captain Nicklas Lidstrom also scored and Chris Osgood made 22 saves for the Presidents' Trophy-winning Red Wings, who grabbed a three-games-to-one lead. Detroit can capture the 11th championship in franchise history - and fourth in 11 seasons - with a win in Game Five at home on Monday.

"It never gets old," said Lidstrom, who was a member of Detroit's previous three championship teams but is one win away from becoming the first European-born captain to hoist the Stanley Cup. "We know, as a team, we haven't won anything yet. We won three games. ... But sure, you're excited about being in a position like this. This is what you play for all year long."

Marian Hossa netted a power-play goal and Marc-Andre Fleury turned aside 28 shots for Pittsburgh, which fell to 9-1 at Mellon Arena this postseason and 11-1 when scoring first.

"What we have to do is keep our chin up still," Hossa said. "We still have got a good chance. ... We're facing a tough situation, but on the other hand, they have to win one more game, and we have to make it really tough on them."

"We have to play desperate hockey, fight for another day," Penguins defenseman Darryl Sydor added. "The youth of this hockey team hasn't experienced that yet, so that's probably a good thing. We're going to come out and play hard (on Monday) and lay the chips where they may. We're not going to go down without a fight, for sure. We still believe in here."

Already feeling good about themselves after their victory in Game Three, the Penguins increased their confidence when Hossa tallied less than three minutes into the first period. But after Lidstrom knotted the game later in the opening session, Hudler put the Red Wings ahead early in the third.

Brad Stuart made the goal possible by stopping a clearing attempt at the right point. The defenseman then weakly threw the puck down low, and Darren Helm got in the way of Pittsburgh blue-liner Brooks Orpik, allowing it to reach Hudler at the bottom of the right faceoff circle.

"Me and Orpik kind of raced for (the puck), and I was able to lift his stick and make sure I got the puck to Hudler," Helm said. "I saw him out of the back of my eye. It was just a little thing. I got the puck to him and he was able to bury it. I didn't even get to see the goal."

With his back to the net, Hudler quickly turned and put a backhander off the left arm of Fleury and inside the right goalpost at 2:26 for his fifth goal of the playoffs and a 2-1 advantage.

"Sometimes you need a bit of luck (to) get it past them," Hudler said.

"Once or twice, we could have brought the puck out," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. "This is a good team. Good teams find a way to win. Their fourth line scored the winning goal, so what are you going to say?"

The goal proved to be the difference, although Pittsburgh had several chances to forge a tie.

During a two-man advantage, captain Sidney Crosby received a cross-crease pass at the right side. But Henrik Zetterberg, who is a leading candidate for the Conn Smythe Trophy, tied up the superstar's stick before he could get possession and take a shot.

"He made a good play on me, got my stick," Crosby said. "Just did a good job of trying to get a stick in the lane. I don't think he did anything out of the ordinary besides (what) any other guy would do on a 5-on-3."

"They had a great opportunity to tie it up," said Zetterberg, who is a finalist for the Selke Trophy. "It's a challenge to play against such good players, especially when you're down two guys. They have a lot of room."

During the penalty kill, Zetterberg also gained possession of the puck and killed some time in the offensive zone, which drew the praise of coach Mike Babcock.

"I was thinking of lacrosse at that time," Babcock said. "I always hear my son's coach yelling when they're shorthanded, 'Get a hold of it and hang onto it.' That's what (Zetterberg) was doing.

"I've been telling people for three years how good Zetterberg is, so this isn't a surprise to me. He's just a conscientious, good two-way player."

The Penguins failed to register a shot on Osgood during the 5-on-3, which lasted 86 seconds.

"They were skating well and we just did a great job, getting in the shooting lane," Osgood said. "It wasn't like they weren't shooting, they were. We blocked a ton of shots. ... We were a little lucky, too, at the same time. (The puck) bounced back to our guys."

"That was definitely the turning point, for sure," Hossa said. "Five-on-3, we didn't score. That was one of the points that cost us the game. We have to score there. ... It would have been a different game."

And in the waning moments of the third, the only save the All-Star goalie needed to make was a big one, as he turned away Hart Trophy finalist Evgeni Malkin's tip-in chance from the doorstep with four seconds remaining.

After collecting 19 points through the first three rounds of the playoffs, Malkin has yet to get on the scoresheet in the Finals.

"I'm pretty frustrated and kind of disappointed that I didn't score any goals," the Russian said through an interpreter. "I'll just have to work harder. If I would score just one goal, I would get away from that bad streak.

"In hockey, it happens when you go on streaks when you can't score, you can't do anything, basically. You have to work hard and just get through that time. Hopefully, I will eventually score."

Malkin admittedly has been hard on himself for his lack of production in this series but is trying to battle through the slump.

"Personally, I have been thinking about the fact I have not been scoring goals," he said. "But after a while, I just don't think about it and (realize) I should just let it go. The coaches just talked to me and just said, 'Just let it go. Just play with the team.' I'm not really thinking about it anymore."

Despite his struggles, Malkin still has the support of his teammates.

"He's battling just like everyone else out there," Crosby said. "There's not a lot of room. To be honest, I don't think anybody's really creating that much out there. He's created a few chances, just like everyone else. ... He's going to be rewarded for it, it's just a matter of time."

"He's a guy with a lot of character, and I'm sure he's going to bounce back," Pittsburgh's Maxime Talbot added. "He's taking a lot of criticism because he played so good before, but you look at the rest of the guys. He's not the only one that has to score some goals."

Detroit applied pressure from the start but had three of its first four shot attempts blocked. Dallas Drake then was called for roughing just 2:11 into the contest, and the Penguins needed only 40 seconds to take advantage.

From above the right faceoff circle, defenseman Sergei Gonchar wristed a shot that was stopped by Osgood. Hossa grabbed the rebound at the right side and appeared on his way behind the net before stuffing the puck inside the goalpost at 2:51 for a 1-0 edge.

"Hossa made a great play," Osgood said. "The guy has unbelievable hands. Not many guys can do that move."

The goal was just the fourth of the series for Pittsburgh, which scored four or more in each of its four wins over Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference finals.

The lead lasted less than five minutes, however, as the Red Wings pulled even just as their first power play ended.

Two seconds after Pascal Dupuis' cross-checking penalty expired, Lidstrom unleashed a slap shot from the left point that found its way past a screened Fleury at 7:06, knotting the game at 1-1.

"That's something I cannot stop," Fleury said. "Things happen some days, and it just (stinks) it happened right now."

The goal was the 42nd of the Norris Trophy finalist's postseason career, moving him past Hall of Famer Ray Bourque for third place on the all-time list among defensemen.

The pace remained high for the remainder of the first period and entire middle session, but neither team was able to break the deadlock. Detroit outshot Pittsburgh, 21-17, through 40 minutes.

"It's certainly tight out there," Hossa said. "Detroit is a really good defensive team and it's really tough to get great chances. But we have to find a way. That's not an excuse. Obviously, we need to score more goals."