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Greg Wyshynski

Chris Osgood: The goalie rebound Detroit won't mind seeing

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PITTSBURGH -- Chris Osgood(notes) sat at the podium, doing his best not to spray water on the media when his Detroit Red Wings teammate Pavel Datsyuk(notes) made some thickly accented references to drinking too much beer or wanting to play 60 minutes as a defenseman in Game 4.

When he wasn't chuckling at the goofy Russian, the goalie offered a candid assessment of his play in the Wings' Game 3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, after which Osgood chose not to meet with reporters. He didn't see the first goal by Max Talbot(notes). He didn't see the second goal by Kris Letang(notes), because he looked the wrong away around defenseman Niklas Kronwall(notes) and ended up screening himself. On Sergei Gonchar's(notes) game-winner, Osgood said he was out-waited by the Penguins defenseman, who released a perfect shot that sabotaged Osgood's timing.

"They've got a good team. They made a nice play. That's an NHL goal. Would have loved to have had it," he said. "But [in] first two games, that would have ended up hitting me or hitting the post. That one ended up not doing that. Status quo. I feel really good and real confident. They've got a good team. We're happy to be up 2-1, but we know we'll have to continue to play well to beat them."

There are question marks for the Red Wings heading into tonight's Game 4. Like a penalty kill that allowed the Penguins to maintain pressure for far too long, surrendering two power-play goals. Like the lingering bitterness from the locker room about blown calls in Game 3, including the bizarre accusation relayed by TSN that referee Dennis LaRue "was allegedly yelling at the Penguins players to get off" during the too many men on the ice non-call. Like how Kris Draper(notes), and potentially Pavel Datsyuk, will fit back into a lineup that has thrived for the most part without them.

But if history tells us anything, it's that Chris Osgood isn't one of those questions marks. Argue all you want about his "elite" status or Hall of Fame credentials. The bottom line is that he's the last goalie you want to see after scoring three or more goals on him in the previous playoff game.

Before surrendering three goals in Game 3 on Tuesday night, Osgood had given up three or more goals in 10 playoff games over the last two postseasons -- five times in both 2007-08 and 2008-09.

But in his last 37 playoff games, Osgood has never given up three or more goals in back-to-back games; his goals against average in those follow-up games is a formidable 1.74.

His record in those games, after giving up at least three goals in the previous contest?

That would be 8-2.

Now, this might speak more to the ability of the Detroit Red Wings team to rebound from losses or poor efforts. But Osgood is very much a part of that resiliency, and he appears to be the last cause for concern for his teammates and his coach.

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"It's behind him. He is having fun. He's played real well, and he should be enjoying himself," said Coach Mike Babcock. "As far as Ozzie goes, I think he's been excellent. All playoff long. Every once in a while as a goalie, you give up a goal you'd like to get back."

Babcock indicated that trying to give Osgood more support would be a motivator for Game 4. "I didn't think we generated enough for him after the first period ... well, after the second period. So that's how I look at that," he said.

Tonight's tilt will be a fascinating one for the goaltenders: Osgood trying to once again rebound with a stellar effort in the playoffs, and the Penguins' Marc-Andre Fleury(notes) looking for another quietly outstanding performance like the one he had in Game 3.

Although even Fleury admitted that his luck has changed a bit from the games in Detroit.

"I think that's why the playoffs are so fun," he said. "Whatever happens in those first game, you know, you're going to forget about it, and always start over again every night."

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