Stanley Cup Finals, Game 4 (6/4/09)

Tonight it was game four of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Penguins and the Red Wings. Pittsburgh’s lineup was unchanged. For the Red Wings Draper was back for tonight’s game. Datsyuk was a game time decision and skated a lot during warm-ups. Just before the game they decided that he wasn’t able to go. As close as he was today, hopefully he’ll be ready by Saturday night.

Just barely into the second minute of the game the Red Wings were called for their first penalty. Kronwall went to the box for a trip. On the power play Detroit did a got job at first but then Pittsburgh got control in the offensive zone and started moving the puck. The Red Wings had a few chances to clear but couldn’t really get control. There were a couple of point blank shots in a row. The second one went wide and Osgood moved over to the side of the net. It bounced quickly off the back boards and Malkin put it in behind Osgood before he could reset himself. Pittsburgh had the early one to nothing lead. You can’t really fault Osgood on that goal. It’s asking a lot him to stop three shots in two seconds from three different angles.

Osgood made a big stop when Crosby had a breakaway. The Wings couldn’t seem to control the puck. The passes were always in the wrong spot and they’d just end up giving the puck away. It’s a good thing Osgood was sharp. The Red Wings were getting a lot of shots and chances but they weren’t very good quality. The puck was bouncing a lot and Pittsburgh playing ridiculously tight.

Detroit had a power play chance but couldn’t capitalize. Then near the end of the period both teams traded high sticking calls within 10 seconds of each other so it was 4 on 4 for close to two minutes. That really opened up the ice a lot and things looked better for Detroit. Helm was in and being effective as usual. He made a great pass to the front of the net for a chance by Cleary that didn’t go. Then Helm cut off the clearing attempt by Scuderi. Helm shot the puck and it found the back of the net. Thank goodness for Helm!

The 4 on 4 seemed to energize Detroit for the rest of the period. They continued getting good scoring chances. I think this was another case of the great play of Darren Helm motivating the rest of the team. The Wings didn’t score during the surge but they did build some momentum that would hopefully carry over to the second period. I felt relieved that it was one to one after the first period. Even though the Wings were outshooting and out chancing the Penguins it felt like Pittsburgh had the advantage in the first.

In the first minute of the second period things looked pretty bad. Right off the bat Hossa turned it over to Crosby in the Red Wings zone and he had two good chances on Osgood. The turnovers have been so frustrating to watch. I felt better a few seconds later though. Zetterberg got the puck back to Brad Stuart who shot it from the point and it made it into the net. Fleury couldn’t see the puck because two of his own players were in his way. Filppula was in position for a tip but it wasn’t needed. Two to one Red Wings.

Detroit had a power play and then got another one with two seconds left on the first one. Malkin came out of the box after the short 5 on 3 and the Penguins started some aggressive penalty killing. During Detroit’s power play Staal brought the puck into the Red Wings end. He got in behind Rafalski and shot on Osgood. The shot beat Ozzie and tied the game at two.

Just a minute or two later Detroit turned it over in their own end and Pittsburgh turned it into a breakaway with Malkin and Crosby. Ericsson dropped down and blocked the first pass from Malkin to Crosby but the puck came right back to Malkin. On his second try he got the pass across to Crosby who put it in the net and put the Penguins up three to two.

Detroit looked flustered after that and almost gave up another one with some sloppy play in their end.

A few minutes later Pittsburgh scored again. They were passing all over the place. It was tic tac toe and Kennedy put it in the net. None of these goals were Osgood’s fault and in fact he had about three or four point blank saves during the same time frame. It probably should have been six or seven to two by that point in the game. The Wings looked like they just weren’t able to keep up with the Penguins anymore. They looked tired. Detroit had given up three goals in five and a half minutes.

Zetterberg turned the puck over to Malkin as the final seconds of the period were ticking away. He took it to the net and shot it. Osgood stayed with it all the way and caught it like it was no big deal as time expired.

In the third period Pittsburgh continued playing phenomenally well. Detroit continued to get chances but aside from few golden opportunities it was nothing too threatening.

With just under two minutes left Osgood went to the bench for the extra man. Kunitz got the puck heading towards the empty net. Kronwall hooked him. Kunitz tried to one hand the puck into the net. I don’t know if it was because of the hook or if he was showing off but he missed the net. The Penguins had a power play for the rest of the game and Detroit wasn’t able to do anything offensively.

The game ended four to two. The better team won in this game. Even though Detroit had lots of shots and chances they just didn’t play nearly as well as the Penguins. The most frustrating part was the number of turnovers that Detroit had. Very often the Wings would take the puck away from the Penguins and then pass it right back to them. That happened a lot in the Red Wings end and often turned into scoring chances for the Penguins.

The Wings are going to have to regroup and rest up and come back with some serious energy in game five. Hopefully Datsyuk will be back by then because I think they’re really missing him especially defensively.

This 2-4 loss brings this Stanley Cup final series to a 2-2 tie.

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