DETROIT -- The Red Wings will leave the Motor City today in the driver's seat of the Stanley Cup final.
And, the situation could get a lot worse for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The finely tuned Wings just keep chugging along after they pulled out a second straight 3-1 victory over the Penguins Sunday night at the Joe Louis Arena to take a commanding 2-0 lead as the series shifts to Mellon Arena for Game 3 Tuesday and Game 4 Thursday.
The frustration boiled over for the Pittsburgh Penguins in the final minutes when Evgeni Malkin jumped Henrik Zetterberg and received an instigator penalty which could have meant the all-star centre would have been suspended for Game 3 because league rules call for an automatic ban in the last five minutes.
However, NHL VP Colin Campbell rescinded the suspension after meeting with the officials following the game. He said it didn't meet the criteria for the rule and Malkin shouldn't be banned.
"None of the criteria in this rule applied in this situation. Suspensions are applied under this rule when a team attempts to send a message in the last five minutes by having a player instigate a fight. A suspension could also be applied when a player seeks retribution for a prior incident. Neither was the case here," said Campbell in a statement.
For the second straight game, rookie Justin Abdelkader put this away with his second of the playoffs at 2:47 of the third to give the Wings a two-goal lead. It was Valtteri Filppula who scored the winner and Jonathan Ericsson started the scoring for the Wings.
Zetterberg admitted he was a little surprised.
"There was a scrum. That's the way it is. There should be a lot of feelings," said Zetterberg, who was in the first fight of his career.
The Wings know the incident, which started with Maxime Talbot spearing Chris Osgood in the chest, is the result of being shut down by the defending Stanley Cup champions in virtually every aspect of the game. Sidney Crosby hit a post, but his chances have been minimal.
"That's just competing hard and being frustrated," said Wings coach Mike Babcock. "They're playing hard and competing hard and that's what we're doing as well. I just feel really good about the way we're playing right now. We're doing a good job and (Chris Osgood) is making saves.
"They had some good chances. I've been impressed with how hard they've played. We've been able to get some timely goals and that’s been the key for us."
The Penguins had a lot to be upset about. It was Filppula who gave the Wings a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes when he backhanded the puck by Marc-Andre Fleury when he gave up a huge rebound in the slot.
That left the Penguins livid and screaming at the officials. They felt that Detroit winger Marian Hossa should have been penalized for breaking the stick of Pittsburgh winger Pascal Dupuis earlier in the shift. Neither Bill McCreary or Marc Joanette listened to the argument.
"You're out there, the puck is in the net and you think that maybe there should have been a call on the play. It's frustrating," said Dupuis.
It's amazing how the small things continue to hurt the Penguins. A lost draw by Talbot set up the opening goal by the Wings. Detroit's Darren Helm won the faceoff to set up Ericsson to tie it up at 4:21. With Fleury screened in front, he didn't have a chance on the goal that came only moments after Pittsburgh iced the puck and couldn't make a change.
"We've just been playing pretty well as a team," said Ericsson. "The thing we have to do is keep playing the way that we've been playing. We’re doing a good job right now and we're able to capitalize on our chances. We have to keep putting pucks at the net and making it hard for Fleury to see the puck."