Pens mightier in Game 3

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:00 AM ET

PITTSBURGH -- The Penguins have a win, and suddenly a prayer, in the Stanley Cup final.

It wasn't pretty, but sure it looked that way as Sergei Gonchar scored the winner at 10:29 of the third period on the power play to give the Penguins a much-needed 4-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings last night in front of 17,132 screaming faithful at Mellon Arena.

Yes, the Penguins still have a long way back by cutting Detroit's lead in the series to 2-1, however, at least there are signs of life after a three-point effort from centre Evgeni Malkin along with a two-goal performance by Maxime Talbot, who salted it away with an empty netter.

Not only did the likes of Kris Letang, Malkin and Talbot step up for Pittsburgh, the club also received a strong performance from much-maliged goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. He made 27 stops and ensure that there will at least be a Game 5 Saturday at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.

"Being down 2-0 series we needed to get that win," said Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma.

Unlike the first two games of the series, the officials decided to make some penalty calls. That resulted in two power play goals by the Penguins and one for the Wings, who completely outplayed Pittsburgh in the second period. The winner came with Jonathan Ericsson in the box.

"This series is where it should be," said Detroit coach Mike Babcock. "You've got two good teams playing hard."

Really, the difference was the second period. The Wings outshot the Pens by a count of 14-4 and the score remained tied 2-2 because Fleury had to come up big. At that point, Bylsma marched into the room and begged his team to be more aggressive to give Fleury some support.

"We didn't have a very good second and they were very good in the second," said Bylsma. "We had to calm down and get back to our game. We did a good job of starting in the second period. We did a good job of starting and we built some momentum. The building was going."

The Penguins were well aware if they had lost, it would have been lights out and the series would have been all but over. There has to be some confidence in getting to Detroit goalie Chris Osgood, who allowed three goals on 20 shots.

"It feels great. It's a big win for us. I don't want to say it was a must win, but everybody knows we needed to win this game," said Talbot, who opened the scoring at 4:48 of third period. "They put a lot of pressure on us because they're a great team and they put us in a hole.

"(Fleury) was there for us. I know in the first and second game he got criticized a little bit, but good for him, because he was definitely the first star in my book and he helped us get the win."

Fleury finally had something to smile about.

"It's just a good feeling to get back in the series," said Fleury. "They have a good team and every night is going to be a battle. It's tough to find the puck sometimes. There was a lot of action in the crease."

Without the last change on the road, Babcock decided to use Henrik Zetterberg with different wingers to make sure he could keep the matchup with Sidney Crosby on the road. And while it limited Crosby to a solitary assist, the strategy didn't result in a victory.

"I don't think anybody should come in here and sweep this team," said Detroit winger Mikhael Samuelsson, who hit the post to start the second. "We're still playing well."


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