This isn't to say the refs did or did not decide Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals -- blown too-many-men on the ice penalty aside -- but rather that the 4-2 Penguins victory turned on the Pittsburgh Penguins' two power-play goals by Kris Letang and Sergei Gonchar.
As Ross McKeon mentioned in last night's Three Stars, it was a game that the Red Wings dominated for stretches but that turned on special teams and some subtle, timely saves from Marc-Andre Fleury. There were few trouble spots for the Red Wings entering this series; the penalty kill was one of them, and continues to be one.
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The Penguins wore down the Wings' kill, containing the puck and keeping the pressure in the zone. "In the second power play, they had us hemmed in. I don't know how long," said Wings Coach Mike Babcock. "It was a power-play game. They got three, and we got two. You know, that's the facts."
Defenseman Brad Staurt was asked what the issue is with the penalty kill. "I don't know. For whatever reason, we've had some trouble with it," he said. "On that last goal, we got caught out there. A little bit gassed."
Defenseman Nicklas Kronwall was a little more analytical. "I think we've done a good job off the rush. We're not giving them too much there. We just have to do a better job staying in the lanes and cutting the passing lanes away from them," said Kronwall. "They're good players. We can't let ourselves ... they're great players. And tonight they made some good plays."
So the Penguins have new life thanks to a physical, uneven, gritty bit of survival in front of their home fans (and the thousands outside of Mellon). And they're now 8-0 when Max Talbot scores in the playoffs. So obviously, the Wings need to put Zetterberg on him, stat.
Random thoughts on Game 3, including video of Marian Hossa's postgame interview in the Wings locker room.
• Chris Osgood chose not to speak with the media after the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2 victory in Game 3, which naturally does more to inspire speculation that the Penguins rattled him than if he had answered 20 questions. Disappointing.
• Did anyone else catch Matt Cooke kicking Osgood in the chest?
• Evgeni Malkin now has 33 points in 20 playoff games, which is nothing short of astounding when you consider some had him dead in the water after two underwhelming efforts against Washington. He's the first player to post 30 points in a playoff year since 1996 and Joe Sakic of the Colorado Avalanche's 34.
• Sidney Crosby didn't look sharp tonight, whether that's him pressing or the Red Wings continuing to solve him. But he made up for it with a very, very strong night in the faceoff circle (12-7), especially on the power play.
• Mike Babcock on the too-many-men call that went uncalled in the first period: "I mean, what do you want me to say? You know, I mean ... see you guys tomorrow." That was before making a more declarative statement off-mic; in a good-natured manner, of course.
• Great exchange with Max Talbot in the postgame presser:
Q. They rattled one off the post. You guys had six guys on the ice for about 20 seconds. Do you feel like maybe you caught a couple of breaks and that the breaks have swung maybe a little bit in that game?
MAXIME TALBOT: "Maybe we did. And maybe that's what we needed. In the first and second we got a couple posts. Tonight it was on our side. And it's huge. It's huge.
"I think we got a good break on that, six guys on the ice. But then we were going, huh? With six guys we cycled the puck a little bit. It was great (laughing). Yeah, we got some break. It was huge."
• Marian Hossa was a minus-1 in 18:43 of ice time. He had three shots, one blocked and two that missed the net. The don't keep a stat for this, so it's hard to quantify, but we'd wager he spent at least 90 percent of his time in the offensive zone skating laps near the blue line. Not a good night for Hossa; and can any Red Wings fan be happy with this level of consistency from their star winger?
• Here's Hossa's postgame comments, including thoughts on the crowd and the physical play of the Penguins: