The Pittsburgh Penguins certainly are not the most talented team in the league, but they could be the most opportunistic. The Penguins capitalized on mistakes by Detroit in a choppy game to get their first win of the season, 4-3.
During the first period, the Penguins didn’t look as if they would be able to capitalize on much of anything. The Red Wings killed off five of six Pittsburgh power plays and managed to hold the Penguins to only six shots during the first twenty minutes.
The Penguins were first on the scoreboard, during a roughing penalty to Chris Chelios. Ramsey Abid was waiting at the side of the net in just the right spot to tip a point shot by Drake Berehowsky past Dominik Hasek at 5:34.
The penalties continued, so the Red Wings scored a goal the only way they could: shorthanded. Ray Whitney made a clearing pass which sent Henrik Zetterberg speeding down the ice on a one-on-one against Martin Straka. He faked to his right, then spun around Straka, moved the puck from his backhand to his forehand, and snapped the puck past rookie goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
The Red Wings finally got a full power play chance of their own near the end of the period when Rico Fata was sent to the box for hooking. Brendan Shanahan took a shot on net which bounced off of Fleury, but Tomas Holmstrom, facing away from the net and being shoved around as usual, whacked at the puck until it went in and gave Detroit the lead.
The number of penalties subsided in the second period, and the Wings increased their lead with the first even-strength goal of the game. Kirk Maltby carried the puck behind the net. Two Pittsburgh defensemen went after him, leaving Darren McCarty all alone in front of the net. Maltby sent a pass out front to his linemate, and McCarty had his stick down on the ice ready to direct the puck to Fleury’s left.
Another shorthanded goal brought Pittsburgh back within one point before the end of the period. Brian Holzinger had been sent out for a high-sticking double minor penalty. The Red Wings were trying to set up their power play when Whitney mishandled a pass and Ryan Malone was able to steal it and head up the rink. Whitney followed and cut Malone off so that he wasn’t able to get much of a shot against Hasek, but Rico Fata was trailing the play and got to the rebound to flip the puck into the net.
Straka tied the game just eleven seconds into the third period after a two-on-one rush. Konstantin Koltsov carried the puck up the left side. Straka kept up on the right. Jiri Fischer used his stick to try to take the passing lane away, but the puck got through to Straka and he put it in the net just under the crossbar.
The Red Wings thought they had regained the lead a few moments later. Shanahan took a shot which deflected into the net off of Mathieu Schneider’s skate blade. The video goal judge, however, ruled that Schneider had kicked the puck into the net, so the goal was waved off.
Fata put the game away for the Penguins with 8:29 left to play. Malone’s pass sprung Fata on a clear breakaway up the right side of the rink, and he beat Hasek with a high wrist shot.
The Red Wings controlled the rest of the game, doing what they could to tie the game back up and force overtime. Even though they pulled Hasek for an extra attacker in the last minutes, they were unable to put the puck past Fleury again.
Detroit outshot Pittsburgh by a count of 34 to 17. The Red Wings’ next game will be Monday night when they visit the Montreal Canadiens.