The Detroit Red Wings got exactly what they needed: a big Game 5 win and long layoff until Game 6.
After hearing how tired and beat up they were through four games of the Stanley Cup finals, the defending champions unleashed its potent offense and shut-down defence, rolling to a 5-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night that put them a win away from another championship.
The experience-heavy Red Wings now lead the Finals 3-2, and are 60 minutes away from their fifth Stanley Cup win in 12 seasons. Can you say, dynasty?
Detroit’s two-game losing streak in Pittsburgh quickly became a distant memory as the Red Wings returned to the friendly confines of Joe Louis Arena and blew away the supposedly fresher Penguins.
The home team is 5-0 in the rematch of last year’s finals, so the Penguins still have that going for them. Detroit, meanwhile, improved to 11-1 at home in the playoffs.
Much of the credit is due to Pavel Datsyuk, who made his mark in his first appearance in eight games, notching two assists and drawing a key penalty. The Red Wings made the Penguins pay for a lack of discipline by going 3-for-9 on the power play. Detroit was 1-for-10 on the power play coming into Game 5.
Chris Osgood, on the verge of his fourth Stanley Cup championship—third as the Red Wings starting goalie—made 22 saves for his 15th playoff shutout, third on the NHL career list. He earned an assist on Valtteri Filppula’s goal for his fifth career playoff point, and improved to 11-4 in the finals.
The Red Wings unloaded with four goals in the second period—three in a span of 6:42—against the befuddled Marc-Andre Fleury, who left after making 16 saves on 21 shots. Rather than the slingshot boards at the Joe, it was the relentless Red Wings powerplay that sent Fleury to the showers early.
Filppula started the barrage 1:44 into the second period when he made it 2-0 just 5 seconds after Chris Kunitz served a penalty for interfering with Osgood. That was the only even-strength goal of the period.
Nicklas Kronwall pushed the lead to three at 6:11, 18 seconds into Sergei Gonchar’s slashing penalty on Datsyuk. Brian Rafalski made it 4-0 at 8:26, and Henrik Zetterberg—last year’s playoff MVP—closed the spurt at 15:40.
That chased Fleury to the bench in favor of backup Mathieu Garon, who made his first playoff appearance since 2004.
Detroit can wrap up the Cup Finals in Game 6 Tuesday night from Mellon Arena.
Detroit held a 29-22 shots advantage, the first time the home team had the edge.
History suggests the Red Wings will hoist the Cup again as 14 of the 19 previous teams to win Game 5 in a series tied 2-2 have prevailed. Pittsburgh won Game 5 in the Motor City last year in triple overtime to force the series to six games, but then was eliminated at home. The Penguins are 1-5 in Detroit in the past two finals, and Crosby failed to score a goal in all six games.