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2009 Stanley Cup Finals: Pens Flip the Script

I'm back after a hiatus of a few days.

Blame Joe Nieuwendyk for that.

Seriously, I didn't mind the hiatus. It's always good to be blogging about exciting Dallas Stars news this time of year, even if their season ended almost two months ago.

Anyway, the first three games of this series followed the same script as last season. Detroit wins the first two games of the series at home, Pittsburgh comes back home and takes Game 3. Of course last year, Detroit won Game 4 to push the Pens to the brink, Pittsburgh responded by tying Game 5 with 34.7 seconds left in regulation and won it in double OT before bowing out on home ice in Game 6.

This season's already different. Much different.

I still remember Game 4 last year because Detroit won that road game in classic Red Wings fashion. Get an early lead and just suffocate the hell out of the other team's offense.

This year, they looked poised to do the same thing after Brad Stuart scored early in the second to give the Red Wings a 2-1 lead. A few minutes later, that vaunted Red Wings' power play got the first of back to back power plays, looking for a 3-1 lead. They couldn't convert on the first one.

And on the second?

Well, we may very well look back at this goal as the goal that turned this series around for Pittsburgh when Jordan Staal picked up the puck at center ice, saw Brian Rafalski back, and just kicked it into another gear to go right around him and whip a puck by Chris Osgood on the stick side.

A few minutes later, Geno Malkin and Sydney Crosby connected on a nice passing play to give Pittsburgh the lead for good. A few minutes after that, they topped it as Crosby kept the puck in at the left point, fed the puck over to Chris Kunitz, who took advantage of a rare defensive screwup by the Red Wings,  who allowed Tyler Kennedy to station himself just off to Osgood's right all by himself. Kunitz didn't miss on the feed and Kennedy didn't miss the net.

And so ended a span of 5:37 where the Pens turned a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 win to tie this series at two games apiece.

I know Detroit's well versed in dealing with adversity. And I know they'll lean on that experience come Saturday night when they drop the puck on Game 5. But I'm not so sure they've dealt with this kind of adversity where they've just been run out of the building the way they were in the second period of last night's game.

Afterall, these Red Wings have usually been the team that's run other teams out of building with their skill. Last night, instead of guys like Zetterberg, Datsyuk, and Draper doing the damage, it was Staal, Crosby, and Kennedy.

In other words, Pittsburgh basically beat Detroit at their own game. And yes, I know Detroit got 39 shots in on Marc-Andre Fleury. But only 20 of those came after the first period in which they bombarded the Pens' netminder with 19 shots.

I'm sure it's nothing a dominating performance in Game 5 can't solve. But if I'm a Wings' fan right now, I'm dreading the next 34 hours. I'm also wishing that three day break between games was occurring right now instead of after Game 5. You're still 2 to 12.

But Pittsburgh's now 2 to 3.