June 02, 2009
No. 1 star, Pittsburgh Penguins' power play:
It wasn't just the fact Pittsburgh converted two of three chances on the power play to win Game 3 and slice Detroit's series lead in half, it was the way the Penguins went about it 5-on-4. Pittsburgh was patient not to rush shots that weren't there, the Pens retrieved pucks that Detroit could have cleared, they won faceoffs, they set screens and they played with the same urgent tempo up a man as when they skated at even strength. Kris Letang(notes) scored 1:13 into Daniel Cleary's(notes) holding penalty late in the first, and Sergei Gonchar(notes) converted 1:23 into Jonathan Ericsson's(notes) interference minor midway through the third to break a 2-2 tie and put the hosts ahead to stay. The common thread was Pittsburgh's ability to tire Detroit's penalty killers and bare down on its chances.
No. 2 star, Maxime Talbot, Pittsburgh Penguins:
The versatile role player stepped up big time by scoring his team's first and last goals in a game the Penguins absolutely had to have. Talbot broke a scoreless tie and allowed the home fans to rattle The Igloo by gathering a puck in the slot that was nearly out of reach and beating Chris Osgood(notes) from the slot at 4:48 of the first period. He put the Wings' comeback hopes to rest, too, by filling an empty net at 19:03 of the third.
No. 3 star, Evgeni Malkin(notes), Pittsburgh Penguins:
Pittsburgh needed offense from one of its two big stars, and that's what it received. Malkin provided the primary assist on the Penguins' three most important goals of the night – the first three – during his 18:58 of ice time that included two shots on goal, a blocked shot and three hits.
Major penalty: Referees Paul Devorski and Dennis LaRue, along with linesman Derek Amell and Pierre Racicot, turned a blind eye to Pittsburgh skating with too many men for 20-25 seconds 13 minutes into the first period with Detroit leading 2-1, but they didn't miss Cleary's hold of the always dangerous Mark Eaton(notes) that led directly to Pittsburgh tying the game and keeping viewers watching the game and the series. We're just sayin' …
Minor penalty: There was a lot of whining below this space following Game 2 why Detroit's Chris Osgood wasn't included among the Sunday Three Stars. He spent a lot of time looking behind himself in that game, not knowing whether he stopped a shot or even where the puck was, and he allowed a weak goal No. 2 on Tuesday. Hey, we're not here to rip Ozzie, who deserves better than he usually receives in terms of reviews, but the fact is Detroit could have stolen Game 3 with a better performance in goal.
Conn Smythe Watch: (The Top 10) 1. Johan Franzen, Red Wings; 2. Evgeni Malkin, Penguins; 3. Henrik Zetterberg(notes), Red Wings; 4. Nicklas Lidstrom(notes), Red Wings; 5. Sidney Crosby(notes), Penguins; 6. Chris Osgood, Red Wings; 7. Sergei Gonchar, Penguins; 8. Daniel Cleary, Red Wings; 9. Darren Helm(notes), Red Wings; 10. Marc-Andre Fleury(notes), Penguins.