The demoted forward busted out of a slump with two goals, and Chris Osgood stifled the Pittsburgh Penguins‘ young and talented stable of forwards with 19 saves to lift the Red Wings to a 4-0 victory in the opening game of the Stanley Cup Finals last night.
Samuelsson doubled his playoff goal total with two in the biggest game of his five-season NHL career. He had been dropped to Detroit’s third line earlier in the playoffs and had posted only two assists since his two-goal outburst on May 1.
Game 2 is tomorrow night in Detroit.
With Samuelsson finding his scoring touch, it didn’t matter that Franzen — tied with Zetterberg for the NHL lead with 12 postseason goals — missed his sixth straight game due to recurring headaches. He seems close to returning, and that could pose big problems for the Penguins, who fell to 12-3 in the playoffs.
Pittsburgh raced out to 3-0 leads in each of the first three rounds — all started in the Steel City — and didn’t drop more than one game to any opponent. Detroit, however, kept Penguins captain Sidney Crosby in check along with the rest of Pittsburgh’s young nucleus.
In a series billed as a matchup between Penguins‘ youth and Red Wings‘ experience, Detroit claimed the first strike. The Presidents’ Trophy-winning Red Wings are 13-4 in the playoffs and three wins away from their third Stanley Cup title in 11 seasons.
Samuelsson needed no help as both of his goals were unassisted. He bailed out fellow Swede Tomas Holmstrom, who was whistled for interference on Fleury that negated a goal by Lidstrom that would have been the game’s first score.
Samuelsson broke the tie in the second period, picking off an errant pass on the far side of center ice and taking it all the way with 6:59 left in the first.
It was Samuelsson’s first goal in seven games, dating to the series-clinching Game 4 win over Colorado.
He netted another 2:16 into the third when Pittsburgh’s Rob Scuderi and Evgeni Malkin took turns fumbling the puck. Samuelsson got it and was alone at the top of the crease for the goal.
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