PITTSBURGH -- Sid the Kid was the man of the hour last night.
Before the Stanley Cup final shifts back to Detroit for Game 5 tomorrow, Sidney Crosby shifted into high gear with a heroic two-point effort for the Penguins in a 4-2 victory over the Red Wings last night at Mellon Arena.
On the strength of a 37-save performance by goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, along with two-point nights from Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal and a goal from Tyler Kennedy, the Penguins have erased Detroit's 2-0 series lead and suddenly have the veteran Wings back on their heels.
Brad Stuart and Darren Helm replied for the Wings, but it wasn't enough as the Penguins made Detroit goaltender Chris Osgood look awfully human.
"We had to play with desperation. That's the way it's going to be through this series," said Crosby. "You are just trying to battle. It's tough to get any space out there for both teams. Both teams are pretty committed defensively.
"You just fight for those chances."
The Penguins exploded in the second for three unanswered goals -- in a span of 5:37 -- by Kennedy, Crosby and a short-handed effort by Staal for a 4-2 lead.
All Kennedy had to do was put a pass from Crosby in an empty net at 14:12 to give the Penguins the two-goal lead.
Crosby and Staal scored in a span of less than two minutes to put Pittsburgh in the lead.
Malkin did some good work by chipping the puck past Brad Stuart to set up a 2-on-1 and then threw it across to Crosby, who beat Osgood on the stick side at 10:35.
Staal's goal, at 8:35, was a game-changer -- and might have changed the series.
"It changed the complexion of the game. It energized our team and the building. That kind of got us rolling," said coach Dan Byslma.
Defenceman Brooks Orpik said the Penguins couldn't afford to lose and frustrated the Wings to the point they lost their composure.
"We're a confident team, but I don't know if it's achievable to come back down 3-1 against a team this good, this poised," said Orpik. "There's no way we go down 3-1. We played with desperation from the start.
"Something the (Wings) didn't do last year (in the final) was, after the whistle, they didn't talk. Once we made 3-2 and then especially at 4-2, they started talking a lot more. They initiated stuff after the whistles. That's not their game. They played right in our hands. They wasted their energy doing that."
Detroit coach Mike Babcock tried to change his shutdown matchup and it backfired. He decided to use Henrik Zetterberg to shut down Malkin, while Johan Franzen and Kris Draper were assigned Crosby.
"We turned the puck over a lot," said Babcock. "We've talked about our penalty killing, I thought our power play sucked the life right out of us. The short-handed goal, nothing happened on it. They just had more energy than us."
The Penguins head to Detroit full of optimism.
"These two wins were huge for us. Now, it's a best-of-three," said winger Maxime Talbot. "It's a different series. Last year, we lost that Game 4 and it was hard to come back. Now, we're tied."