A regulation NHL hockey game lasts three 20-minute periods, sometimes these contests only need a few minutes to render a verdict as to who wins the game. This exact scenario happened in Game 4 at The Igloo in Pittsburgh and it might turn out to be the turning point of the Stanley Cup Finals in 2009.
Detroit again outplayed the Penguins in the first period, out-shooting them 19-11 and just 46 seconds into the second period, Brad Stuart gave the Red Wings a 2-1. Detroit was still carrying the action to Pittsburgh and drew a penalty to set up power play and everybody watching knew one more goal and the party in the Motor City was about to go into the planning stages.
After Nicklas Lidstrom had his shot blocked by Maxime Talbot, who passed to Jordan Staal, everything at the Mellon Center started happening in slow motion. Staal who had been a non-factor, glided by Brian Ralafski and beat goalie Chris Osgood for a short-handed goal to pull the Pens even at 2-2.
“It was huge,” Sidney Crosby said of Staal’s goal. “They had gotten a couple power plays right in a row. I think it was three minutes before he scored that goal, straight power play time. So, that was a huge momentum shift for us to get that. To get that kill. That first one, and then for Jordan to score that was a bonus. And then we bounced back right away.”
Most businesses suffering from the recession which they could “bounce back” the way the Penguins did. For a period of five minutes and 37 seconds, Pittsburgh put on a display seldom seen in the Finals, as Crosby and Tyler Kennedy lit the lamp to give their team a 4-2 lead, which they never relinquished. It was a unique display of talented players at their best. Something else occurred which happens about as often as Heidi Montag avoiding a photo-op, Detroit lost their poise.
“You can’t have letdowns against a team like that three-on-twos, two-on-ones, because eventually they’re going to capitalize,” Lidstrom said. “We didn’t keep our composure there in the second period.”
With the race for the Cup now a best two-of-three, the scene shifts back to Detroit, where the Wings are 10-1 in the playoffs and understand how these things go in late spring.
“We’ve been 2-2 over the years quite a bit, whether it be with Calgary, Nashville, whether it be in the Anaheim series,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “Everyone talks about momentum, but I’m a big believer that momentum is, you know, as good as the next day’s start kind of thing. Just get out there and get playing again and go from there. ..the next game’s absolutely huge for us.”
Detroit has won 49 of last 66 contests at Joe Louis Arena and is -150 money line favorites at DiamondSportsbook.com. The formula to victory might be as simple as the math. The Red Wings have won both games the total was Under and lost twice when the score went Over the number. The Wings are 22-3 at home after one or more consecutive Overs this season. With the total at Ov5.5, are oddsmakers telling us Pittsburgh might be the play? Detroit is 7-1 OVER in home games revenging a loss vs opponent of two goals or more.
Pittsburgh is revitalized and has Crosby, Evgani Malkin and Staal all playing well, which could spell large conundrum for Detroit. They have broken the ice on Osgood’s invincibility and Marc-Andre Fleury is back to being dependable puck-stopper. The Penguins are 21-8 following a triumph and have played OVER last six times with a day between games.
Thankfully, the Finals return to NBC starting at 8 Eastern, with the favorite having won last five meetings.