Pittsburgh Ties Stanley Cup Finals at 2-2
With a surge in the second period, the Pittsburgh Penguins were able to beat the Detroit Red Wings in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals by the final score of 4-2. The series is now tied at 2 a piece and the Penguins are assured of being able to play one more in Pittsburgh regardless of what happens in Detroit during Game 5.
Pittsburgh once again jumped out to an early lead, this time on the strength of an Evgeni Malkin power play goal less than three minutes into the first period. Assists on Malkin's 14 th goal of the playoffs came from Kris Letang and Jordan Staal. Later in the session with less than two minutes left, Darren Helm broke up a pass in the Penguins zone and sent in a shot that squeezed between Marc Andre Fleury and the nearside post to tie the game at 1. It was his fourth goal of the postseason.
Detroit managed to put up a staggering 19 shots in the first period but Pittsburgh was the team feeling good leaving the ice with the game tied. That quickly changed just 45 seconds into the second period, when Brad Stuart sent a slap shot buzzing into the net with assists from Henrik Zetterberg and Brian Rafalski. The air was instantly lifted from the crowd in and outside Mellon Arena.
Piling on to make matters worse, Malkin and Brooks Orpik had consecutive minor penalties called providing the Red Wings with a full four minutes of straight power play time. They didn't get any goals, but the Penguins managed a momentum changing shorthanded goal. Jordan Staal had a slight breakaway ahead of the Red Wings defense thanks to great passes from Maxime Talbot and Mark Eaton. He quickly moved the puck to his forehead and flipped it past Chris Osgood to tie the game at 2.
Pittsburgh has been missing the play of Staal, who has been largely ineffective in terms of scoring during these playoffs. He pulled through in Game 4 with a goal and an assist.
The shorthanded goal also ignited the team and the crowd, and the Penguins would go full steam ahead for the rest of the period. Two minutes after Staal's goal, Malkin and Sidney Crosby loaded up on the same shift. Malkin fed a streaking Crosby who was wide open on the opposite side of Osgood with a great pass, and Crosby obliged by easily sending the puck into the net for his 15 th goal of this playoff run. About three and a half minutes after that, Tyler Kennedy scored on a quick snap shot with assists from Crosby and Chris Kunitz.
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The Red Wings somehow managed to give up three consecutive goals in the span of six minutes, including a shorthanded goal to trail 4-2. It was the perfect storm for the Penguins in Game 4, as Malkin, Crosby and Staal all had a goal and an assist and Fleury played excellent in net, turning away 38 of 39 Detroit shots.
The third period went scoreless, including a missed opportunity for the Penguins to ice the game with an empty netter as time was ticking down.
Game 5 will be held in Detroit on Saturday night. With the series tied at two games a piece, the fight for the Stanley Cup championship boils down to a best out of three series, with the Red Wings potentially having two games at home to Pittsburgh's one.
By Jake Emen
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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