The Pittsburgh Penguins opened the scoring in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup final and closed the game with some fireworks, but could not avoid falling into a 2-0 series hole to the Detroit Red Wings for the second year in a row.
A first period power play goal is all the Penguins could manage on Sunday as they fell 3-1 to the Red Wings, losing both the opening games in Detroit.
The Penguins frustration came to a head late in the game as Maxime Talbot speared Osgood in the chest following a save, Henrik Zetterberg came to the aid of his netminder and ended up getting into a fight with Evgeni Malkin.
"I think in the playoffs and finals like this, there is a lot of emotions, a lot of feelings," said Zetterberg. "When you get scrums that's the way it is. It should be a lot of feelings, and nothing more than that."
Malkin was given an instigator penalty for the incident, but the NHL has rescinded the penalty and he will not be suspended for Game 3.
"The intent of the rule is pretty obvious - was the action premeditated, was it sending a message," explained NHL on TSN's Bob McKenzie following the game. "Malkin was on the ice trying to score a goal at the end of the game. This one was born more out of frustration, then it was the Penguins trying to orchestrate some late game shenanigans, that is what the rule was put in place for and that is why the NHL reserves the right to rescind the rule if they feel the spirit of the rule is not being violated."
The Penguins will be hoping to carry some of the late game fire over to Game 3.
"It's great, Gino plays with emotion," said Talbot about Malkin's fight. "Guys are stepping up and he wants to be part of that. He's really intense and that's good."
The fireworks came too late for the Penguins who find themselves in an unenviable position against the defending champs heading to Pittsburgh for Game 3. Although the Penguins are again down 2-0 in the Cup final, defenceman Hal Gill thinks the situation is far different from last season.
"Last year we got outplayed pretty badly," he said after Game 2. "We have to go back home thinking of what are we going to do?
"We've just got to keep sticking to it, and things are going to go our way."
Detroit head coach Mike Babcock understands how the Penguins are feeling and knows his team still has a long way to go.
"We're going to go into a tough building, their building. I've been impressed with how hard they've played," explained Babcock. "Right throughout their lineup, they've put a lot of heat on us at times."
"It's going to be tough there, absolutely," said Red Wings' Brian Rafalski. "They're going to have the last change. So we'll be playing different match-ups and will have to be sharp."
The Penguins have been unlucky at times and with a bounce here and there over the opening two games things could have turned out differently.
"Crosby has hit a post, he set up Guerin for a post, it could be a different result because they have had some chances, but they have to find a way in Game 3 to create more chances and push the Red Wings back," said NHL on TSN's Ray Ferraro.
"We got scoring chances and pucks around the net and we did not capitalize on them when we needed to," said Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma. "They got timely goals and they got goals in and around our net and ended up with the victory."
"Instead of hitting the post, we have to hit the net," said Gill. "Hockey is a funny game, and we have to make the bounces go our way. But, you know, it takes a lot of hard work, and we've got to stick to it, and make sure that we're in the right position to get the bounces."
The Penguins fell behind 2-0 in the series with their series with the Washington Capitals, but found a way to fight back and take the series in seven.
"It's frustrating, but that's playoff hockey, said Crosby. "You look back to Washington and it's basically the same thing," said Crosby. "We're pretty happy with our first two games and it could have gone either way, but it didn't and we're down 0-2. They were strong at home, now we have to do our job at our rink."
The Red Wings came out strong in the opening minutes of Game 2, but the Penguins gradually gained control. Pittsburgh took 11 of the final 12 shots in the first period and Chris Osgood was forced to make several tough stops.
"By no means can we say that we outplayed them," said Osgood. "The first two games they have given us everything we can handle."
"We played two good games," said Penguins' Pascal Dupuis. "We (outshot) them in two games. If we keep playing well, the hockey gods are going to be on our side."
Osgood has looked sharp, coming up big for the Wings in again in Game 2. He stopped 31 shots and kept the high-powered Penguins offence at bay for a second consecutive night. The lone blemish on Saturday night for the veteran goaltender came late in the first period during a scrum in front of the net. Malkin was credited with the power play goal after Wings' defenceman Brad Stuart knocked the puck in as he tried to clear it.
Detroit set the tempo for much of the second period as they put steady pressure on Penguins' Marc-Andre Fleury. Jonathan Ericsson pulled Detroit even when he beat Fleury on a shot from the point early in the frame. Darren Helm won a faceoff in the Pittsburgh zone and Jiri Hudler fed Ericsson at the point.
Ericsson had his appendix removed before Game 5 of the Western Conference final against the Chicago Blackhawks, but was back in time for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final.
The Red Wings took the lead after Valtteri Filppula flicked a backhand from an odd angle over Fleury just before the midway point of the second.
The Penguins came close to drawing even with less than five minutes left in the second when Sidney Crosby fed Bill Guerin at the side of the Detroit goal. Osgood came across to get his stick in the way of Guerin's shot, knocking it wide.
"They had a lot of chances, they created a lot," Zetterberg said. "[Osgood] played good again and it saved us."
The Red Wings gave themselves some breathing room early in the third. With the rest of his mates on a line change, rookie Justin Abdelkader fired a puck toward the Pittsburgh net. Although Fleury got a hand on the puck, he could not keep it out and the Wings took a two-goal lead early in the third. Abdelkader scored his first NHL goal on Saturday in Game 1.