DETROIT- The faithful stood in the final minute last night at Joe Louis Arena, cheering wildly after the Red Wings got up off the mat in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final.
And, with the Pittsburgh Penguins on the ropes, the next time fans in the Motor City get to see the Wings, they hope it’s with the Cup in their hands.
Buoyed by the return of Pavel Datsyuk, who led the attack with two assists, along with 22 saves from Chris Osgood, the Wings served notice to those who called them tired and old it’s going to take a lot for the Penguins to wrestle the Stanley Cup away after Detroit pulled off a 5-0 victory.
Leading the series 3-2, all that stands in the way of the Wings and back-to-back titles, is a win in Game 6 Tuesday at Mellon Arena. No, they haven’t won in Pittsburgh, but led by goals from Dan Cleary, Henrik Zetterberg, Brian Rafalski, Niklas Kronwall and Valtteri Filppula.
“We won a game, it’s a big win for our team, but as I said before I don’t believe in that momentum stuff,” said Detroit coach Mike Babcock. “We feel really good about ourselves. The biggest part for us is that we’ve got two days off and we’ve got a chance to get some rest.
“That’s the best thing for us at this point. We’ll be a better team because of that. Our goal is to win this thing. You don’t have a chance until you win three games. We’ve won three games, but that’s all we’ve won. We’ve got to go in there Tuesday and it’s going to be a tough game.”
Not only was this night ugly and frustrating for the Penguins, it was embarrassing. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was chased at 15:40 of the second period after he allowed five goals on 21 shots. To make matters worse, Sidney Crosby lost his cool and looked completely frustrated.
The Wings look different on home ice, they looked a lot better with Datsyuk. He is a Hart Trophy candidate for a reason and if he’s been nursing a foot injury he suffered in the Western final against Chicago, he didn’t look any worse for wear on his return.
“I felt good. The more I played, the better I felt,” said Datsyuk. “When I play more I am more comfortable. It’s tough to come into the final series, but as I played more I was able to get more confidence.”
But, the night was not without controversy. Pittsburgh winger Maxime Talbot was accused of targeting Datsyuk when he slashed him on the foot at 17:57 of the second with the Wings running away.
“Max is a physical player. I don’t want to comment on that and I don’t even know what foot (of Datsyuk’s) it was,” said Pens’ coach Dan Bylsma.
After dropping back-to-back games in Pittsburgh, the Wings exploded with four goals in the second.
While Detroit was 1-for-9 on the power play in the first four games of the series, they set the tone with three goals with the man advantage in the second and this wasn’t even close.
“I thought we came out with a lot of determination,” said Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom. “We were able to kill off their first power play and then we just kept going. We got the puck in behind, we made plays there, we stuck to the game plan.
“I thought they got frustrated when we got ahead 4-0. We kept our cool and we got some more power plays.”
Crosby said he hopes the Penguins can recover.
“Sometimes it is (easier) to get back when you don’t play well at all. You have to go out and come back. The situation is pretty clear for us,” said Crosby.