DETROIT (AP)—If the Red Wings keep this up, the next time they perform back in Hockeytown could be along a parade route.
Producing timely offense and perfectionist defense, Detroit is not only beating the Pittsburgh Penguins, they are shutting them out.
If they can match this twice in Pittsburgh, the Red Wings will return to Detroit with the Cup in tow.
Puck-possessing Detroit held onto it all night and registered 34 shots. After a 19-save effort in a 4-0 series-opening win Saturday, Chris Osgood stopped 22 in a rocking-chair game and earned his third blanking of the playoffs — 13th of his career.
“I play the game as it comes,” Osgood said. “I love playing behind these guys. I don’t need 40 shots to play the game or to feel good. I’m confident regardless. I’m not really into stats too much, just into winning.”
The often-overlooked Osgood owns the Red Wings record with 50 postseason victories, ahead of Hall of Famer Terry Sawchuk, and is closing in on his third Cup with Detroit—two as the starting netminder.
Osgood is the first to post shutouts in the first two games of the finals since New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur in 2003 against Anaheim.
“All it means to me is that I’m just confident, and I’m going to try to do it for as long as I can,” Osgood said. “It’s as simple as it gets.”
Of the 31 teams to win the first two games of the finals at home, 30 have captured the Cup. Game 3 is Wednesday in Pittsburgh, and the Penguins will have to win one of the next two to force a trip back to Motown.
The Penguins are 8-0 at Mellon Arena in the postseason and have a 16-game winning streak inside the Igloo, dating to Feb. 24. Detroit needs two wins to lock up its 11th Stanley Cup title and fourth in 11 seasons.
“We just have to execute,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. “Did they really get that many scoring chances on us? I don’t think they did. They got a few and put them in. We hit a post, and pucks go through us by the net that we don’t put in. That’s the difference.”
Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien complained about obstruction by the Red Wings and diving by Osgood. The Penguins were uncharacteristically whistled for two goalie interference penalties, one quickly negated a Pittsburgh power play.
“He’s a good actor,” Therrien said. “I know our players are frustrated right now. It’s tough to play the game, but Osgood did the same thing against Dallas.
“Our team never goes to the goalie. We never did it, and we don’t target the goalie. You want to talk about experience, he goes to players, and he knows what to do, I guess.”
Unlike Game 1 when the teams played a scoreless first period, the Red Wings came out flying. Showing none of the nerves Detroit coach Mike Babcock said his team had in the opener, the Red Wings got goals from Stuart and Holmstrom 4:23 apart.
Pittsburgh was outshot 8-0 and allowed two goals before getting a puck on Osgood.
Valtteri Filppula scored 8:48 into the third with the teams skating 4-on-4.
Pittsburgh managed only six shots in the first period, despite four revamped lines, and none came at even strength. The Penguins didn’t get much of a lift with hard-hitting, 42-year-old Gary Roberts back in the lineup after a four-game absence, and Detroit again shut down young scorers Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Osgood hasn’t allowed a goal in 137 minutes and 33 seconds, dating to Game 6 against Dallas in the Western Conference finals. For the second straight game he heard adoring chants of “Oz-zie, Oz-zie” that easily drowned out the large pockets of cheering Penguins fans who made the four-hour drive from Pittsburgh.
Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury stayed on his feet this time upon hopping onto the ice before the opening faceoff, but couldn’t get enough of his stick on Stuart’s drive from inside the blue line at 6:55 to keep the puck from hopping up and into the net. It was the defenseman’s first playoff goal.
Holmstrom has made a living on scoring from close quarters, and did so again without infringing on the crease. Holmstrom passed the puck out front to fellow Swede Henrik Zetterberg, who squeezed a shot between Fleury’s pads. As the puck trickled tantalizingly close to the goal line, Holmstrom slammed it in at 11:18.
He was called for interference on Fleury in the first period Saturday, negating a goal by captain Nicklas Lidstrom. That’s about the only thing that has gone right for the Penguins, who entered the finals 12-2 in the playoffs.
Now they are the fourth team this year to fall behind 2-0 to the Red Wings, who are 9-1 at home.
Osgood was as steady as he needed to be on a night he didn’t see a whole lot of work.
“My focus was to win the two games at home,” he said. “Not ever did I ever think about getting two shutouts in a row against that team.”
Malkin has disappeared since a hard hit from Philadelphia’s Mike Richards in the opener of the East finals. The MVP finalist has one goal and one assist in six games and appears to be tiring at the end of a long season.
Crosby hasn’t figured out how to get free of Detroit’s top line of Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Holmstrom, and the 20-year-old captain showed frustration as he sipped water from a bottle on the bench.
“They do a good job of definitely clogging up the neutral zone and holding up,” Crosby said. “As players, you have to battle through that sometimes and hope they get the calls.”
More frustration and some chippiness led to late-game scuffles. The first was precipitated by Roberts’ driving glove hand to the face of Johan Franzen, who returned after missing six games following recurring headaches. He was back on the ice for his next shift and took a roughing penalty.
Only the 1971 Chicago Blackhawks failed to win the Cup after taking the first two games at home. … The Penguins are 4-4 on the road, including three shutout losses. … Franzen logged 16 minutes, 21 seconds of ice time in 26 shifts.