Penguins look to draw even with Red Wings in Game 4

The Sports Network

6/4/2009 3:10:49 PM

(Sports Network) - The Pittsburgh Penguins will try to draw even in the Stanley Cup Finals tonight when they host the defending champion Detroit Red Wings at Mellon Arena for Game 4 of the best-of-seven series.

The Red Wings, who are trying to become the first club to repeat as Cup champions since they did it themselves in 1997 and '98, jumped out to a 2-0 series lead by taking Games 1 and 2 on their home ice.

However, the Penguins were able to avoid falling into the nearly insurmountable 3-0 hole by winning the third meeting of the series Tuesday night in Pittsburgh. Tonight, the Pens can tie the set at two games apiece or fall behind 3-1 and give the Red Wings a chance to close out the series Saturday in Detroit.

Pittsburgh posted a 4-2 victory in Game 3 as Sergei Gonchar's power-play goal midway through the third period broke a tie and Maxime Talbot's empty-net tally in the final minute of regulation sealed the victory.

Talbot also scored in the opening period along with Kris Letang for Pittsburgh. It was the first multi-goal playoff game of Talbot's career and the gritty forward now has six goals and nine points in this year's playoffs.

Marc-Andre Fleury was strong for Pittsburgh with 27 saves in the victory, including 14 stops in the second period. The Penguins were on cruise control in that middle stanza, but came alive in the final 20 minutes to get back in the series.

"In the second period, they came out really strong," said Talbot. "They were putting pressure on us. They put us on our heels. Luckily, Fleury was there. He was definitely (the main reason Pittsburgh won) in my book. It's nice to get a big win."

Evgeni Malkin -- whose participation in Game 3 had been in question following an incident near the conclusion of Game 2 -- posted three assists for Pittsburgh, while fellow superstar Sidney Crosby finally reached the scoresheet for the first time in the series with an assist on the game-winning goal.

Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen scored for the Red Wings, while Detroit goaltender Chris Osgood allowed three goals on 20 shots.

Detroit forward Pavel Datsyuk was absent from the lineup for the sixth straight game with a swollen foot, but could be ready to return tonight. The Russian forward skated on Monday and Tuesday and is expected to be a game-time decision for tonight's contest.

Datsyuk suffered the injury when he blocked a shot in Game 2 of the West finals against the Blackhawks. Datsyuk led the Red Wings with 97 points during the regular season and is also a key defensive forward for his club.

This series is a rematch of last year's Cup Finals, which Detroit won in six games, marking the first time in 25 years that the same two teams have battled for Lord Stanley's Cup in consecutive seasons. The last time was in 1983 and '84 when Edmonton and the New York Islanders faced off against each other.

The Penguins are hoping to represent the Oilers in that equation, as Edmonton lost to the Islanders in 1983 before claiming the title the following season. Pittsburgh is also the first team since the 1984 Oilers to return to the Cup Finals a year after losing in that round the previous year.

Pittsburgh is 7-2 at the Igloo in the playoffs after turning in a solid 25-13-3 record as the host during the regular season. The Pens will once again need to use home ice to their advantage as no team has come back to win the Cup Finals after losing Games 1 and 2 on the road since the 1971 Montreal Canadiens rebounded to defeat the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Red Wings, meanwhile, are 4-4 on the road in the playoffs after going an NHL-best 24-12-5 as the guest during the regular season.