Not only did a change of hotels fail to provide the necessary karma for the superstitious Pittsburgh Penguins in Motown on Saturday, they lost their cool in a critical game five of the Stanley Cup final.
Energized by the return of Pavel Datsyuk, the Detroit Red Wings swiftly gained control of the important match, which they won 5-0 before a satisfied crowd of 20,066 at Joe Louis Arena, to stymie the Penguins to a point that they lost control of their emotions.
The biggest incident was with the score 5-0, and the Penguins killing a penalty late in the second period, Pittsburgh forward Maxime Talbot chopped at the feet of Datsyuk, who missed the past seven games with a foot injury, to give Detroit a 5-on-3 advantage.
The action could have been construed as an attempt to injure Datsyuk, but none of the Wings wanted to point a finger at Talbot, who predictably pleaded innocence afterwards.
"I was just trying to hack for the puck," he said.
"They can suggest whatever they want. I was going for the puck and his foot was there."
Detroit coach Mike Babcock refused to be baited into a discussion as to whether he felt Talbot was trying to go after Datysuk's foot. Datsyuk didn't want to say anything controversial either.
"I don't know," he said. "I'm happy we have penalty, 5-on-3. That's what it is."
The game wasn't even 27 minutes old and the score was 3-0 when Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin elbowed Detroit's Johan Frazen, leading to the Red Wings' fourth goal. A few shifts later, Pittsburgh's Chris Kunitz roughed up Detroit's Darren Helm, leading to the Wings fifth goal.
"We should have done a better job keeping our composure," said Talbot, whose team moved to a different Detroit hotel than last year after losing the Stanley Cup final to the Red Wings, and then ditched their downtown digs for suburban lodging on this trip after losing the first two games of this series.
The Red Wings were without Datsyuk for seven games, but managed to win four times in his absence. Babcock said that his star would not be in the lineup if this still was the regular season. Datsyuk's teammates were pleased to have him back at any capacity.
"He obviously wasn't a full 100 per cent, but I'll take 85 per cent of Pavel Datsyuk over a 100 per cent of other guys," Detroit defenceman Brian Rafalski said. "His vision is obviously very good, and his ability to handle the puck. It's only going to get stronger as we go forward."
The Red Wings survived a stretch of five games in eight days only a two-day break after their Western Conference final against the Chicago Blackhawks and now get a much needed two-day break before game six in Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
Detroit appeared to be the more tired team after dropping its second game in Pittsburgh last Thursday, but they were definitely energized playing in front of their home crowd.
Instead, the Penguins looked like a beaten bunch and were sluggish early on.
"I thought we had good jump tonight," said Babcock, who wore his lucky McGill University necktie. "We had no jump in the last game when they scored all those goals. It didn't look like they had much jump when we scored all those goals. It's amazing how tired you look when you're not scoring and they are."
The Red Wings, now 11-1 at Joe Louis in the 2009 playoffs, were much better on special teams. They not only shutdown the Penguins on a key first-period power play, they connected for three power-play goals in the second period after going a dismal 1 for 10 in man-advantage situations in the first four games of the season.
"I think we wanted to shoot a little bit more," Henrik Zetterberg said. "We wanted to get the second pucks. We did that. We spent some more time in their end and eventually we got our goals."
In his return, Datsyuk picked up two assists and played left wing alongside Zetterberg and right wing Daniel Cleary. It was Cleary, from a Datsyuk feed, who scored the game's first goal in the first period.
Valtteri Filppula, Niklas Kronwall, Rafalski and Zetterberg scored in the second period. The final three goals were on the power play. Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was chased to the bench after allowing the fifth goal on 21 shots and replaced by backup goalie Mathieu Garon.
Talbot was confident that Fleury would return to form for game 6 in Pittsburgh on Tuesday. "None of us played well," Talbot said.
Notes - Detroit goalie Chris Osgood, who made 22 saves, recorded his 15th NHL playoff shutout to move into fourth on the all-time list and one behind Curtis Joseph's 16 … Red Wings captain Niklas Lidstrom played in his 233rd postseason game to move into tie for fourth on the all-time list with Scott Stevens … In the previous 19 Stanley Cup finals that were tied two games apiece, the team that won game five claimed the title on 14 occasions.Report Typo/Error