Red Wings aim for 2-0 Cup finals lead against Pens

The Sports Network

5/26/2008 11:04:27 AM

The Detroit Red Wings will try to take a 2-0 advantage in the Stanley Cup finals when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight at Joe Louis Arena.

Detroit drew first blood in the best-of-seven series on Saturday, as the Red Wings pounded out a 4-0 decision on their home ice in Game 1.

The Red Wings are 8-1 at home this postseason after notching a league-best 29-9-3 mark in the Motor City during the regular season.

Pittsburgh is 4-3 as the visiting team in the playoffs and was 21-17-3 during the regular season.

After tonight's test, the series will shift to Pittsburgh for Games 3 and 4. The Penguins are scheduled to host the third meeting Wednesday night at Mellon Arena.

Mikael Samuelsson scored a pair of unassisted goals in Saturday's decision to help stake Detroit to a one-game lead.

Chris Osgood turned aside all 19 shots he saw for the Red Wings, who are seeking their fourth Stanley Cup in the past 11 seasons. It was Osgood's second shutout of these playoffs and his 12th career postseason blanking.

Osgood has been stellar throughout the playoffs, going 11-2 with a 1.48 goals against average and .935 save percentage. The 35-year-old is trying to win his second Stanley Cup title as Detroit's No. 1 goaltender. Osgood also led the Red Wings to the second of two straight championships in 1998.

Marc-Andre Fleury was charged with all four goals on 36 shots for the Penguins, who are in the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1992.

Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, who both made their first Stanley Cup appearance, finished the game with a combined four shots and a minus-two rating.

Penguins head coach Michel Therrien is expected to make some line changes for Game 2 and will also re-insert veteran forward Gary Roberts into the lineup. The 42-year-old Roberts was a healthy scratch in Game 1, but will be called upon to bring some added physical play to the Pittsburgh side tonight. Roberts has two goals and an assist in six playoff games this year.

Detroit will also be close to getting the man known as "Mule" back on the ice. Johan Franzen has been out with concussion-like symptoms since Game 1 of the Western Conference finals against Dallas. Despite missing the last six games, Franzen is tied with his teammate Henrik Zetterberg for the most goals in this year's playoffs with 12 markers.

Franzen has been practicing and is no longer suffering from the chronic headaches that have kept him out of the lineup. 

The Red Wings came into this series as the favorites, having won the Presidents' Trophy as the team with the best record in the NHL during the regular season. Pittsburgh was the Atlantic Division champion and the second- seeded team in the Eastern Conference.

Both teams took impressive paths to the Cup finals this year, as the Penguins rolled through the Eastern Conference playoffs with a 12-2 record and Detroit claimed the West championship by winning 12 of 16 games. The Red Wings even set a franchise record at one point with nine consecutive victories this postseason.

Detroit defeated Nashville in six games during the opening round, swept Colorado in the following series, and beat Dallas in six tests of the conference finals.

The Penguins swept Ottawa in the first round and defeated the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers in five games during the conference semifinals and finals, respectively.

Because of the NHL's unbalanced schedule, Pittsburgh and Detroit have met sparingly during the regular season in recent years and the clubs have never faced off in the playoffs. The teams didn't play in 2007-08, but Detroit has won the last two regular-season meetings and five of six overall.

When the home team wins game 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup Final they have a 31-1 series record.

Pittsburgh lost game one in 1991, but still went on to win the Stanley Cup.

The last time Fleury lost back-to-back games was November 17 & 21, a span of 32 decisions.