For the first time in more than 50 years, finals games will be played on back-to-back nights as the Penguins and Red Wings meet in Game 2 on Sunday at Joe Louis Arena.
Detroit got the go-ahead goal from Johan Franzen(notes) - his team-high 11th of the postseason - in the final minute of the second period and Chris Osgood(notes) finished with 31 saves in Saturday’s 3-1 victory.
“We knew coming into this series that these guys, when you’ve been here before, you know what to expect so you’re ready to start on time,” the Detroit coach said.
“We can do a better job,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. “I think there are some areas that we can keep at. But that’s the challenges. And getting back at it (Sunday) is a good thing for us.”
Crosby entered Detroit on a six-game point streak and with an NHL-high 14 postseason goals, but managed only two shots. A third-period drive by him rang off the post, ended up on Osgood’s back and was smothered.
“I’ve never seen that happen before. I’ve never seen the puck stay on a goalie’s back like that and just sit there,” the Penguins captain said.
It’s been 12 years since the last repeat Stanley Cup champion - Detroit in 1997 and 1998 - and 25 years after the most recent finals rematch as Edmonton and the New York Islanders squared off.
But generations have passed since finals games were played on consecutive nights.
On April 9, 1955, the Red Wings and Canadiens met in Montreal with the Canadiens winning 5-3 to even the series at 2-all. The next night in Detroit, the Red Wings posted a 5-1 victory, and went on to win the Cup in seven.
A big reason for the short turnaround this time is NBC and the league didn’t want to stunt excitement about a matchup with the potential to draw nontraditional viewers.
Preparing to play two high-pressure games in a 24-hour span also will be a little different.
“You’ve got to make sure you get a lot of food in you tonight and get a good night’s sleep,” said 39-year-old Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom(notes), who returned after missing the final two games of the Western Conference finals with an injury. “When the game starts (Sunday), I think you have to keep the shifts a little bit shorter.
“Keep your legs going again, but keep your shifts shorter and try to get the four lines rolling as well so everybody gets into it again.”
Looking to move halfway toward their fifth Cup in 12 years and 12th overall, the Red Wings haven’t lost in Game 2 of the finals since falling to the Canadiens in 1954. Detroit has outscored its opponents 22-8 in Game 2s against Montreal (1955), Philadelphia (1997), Washington (1998), Carolina (2002) and a 3-0 win last year over Pittsburgh.
“It’s a race to four,” Bylsma said. “They got one.”
Since the best-of-7 format was introduced in 1939, teams that have gone up 2-0 in the finals are 41-3. No team has blown a 2-0 lead since Chicago against Montreal in 1971.
“This is tight hockey,” Crosby said. “We didn’t expect to come in here and have it be easy. But the good thing is we’ve got a short period of time here to prepare and get ready for Game 2. We’re confident that we can get one here and go home.”
Game 3 is scheduled for Tuesday night in Pittsburgh.