Penguins offense erupts in win over Red Wings

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — Few teams have the quick strike ability of the Penguins, and they showed it to the Red Wings.

And it was Pittsburgh’s stars, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, who scored 34 seconds apart midway in the third period sparking the Penguins to a 5-2 victory over the Red Wings.

Crosby scored a dazzling goal, down on one knee between the hashmarks and somehow shooting into the right corner at 7 minutes 48 seconds, snapping the 2-2 tie.

Malkin extended the lead to 4-2 on the next shift, taking Phil Kessel’s pass near the top hashmark and snapping a shot past goalie Petr Mrazek.

The goals were Crosby’s ninth and Malkin’s 18th.

BOX SCORE: Penguins 5, Red Wings 2

Kris Letang’s second goal of the game, an empty net goal at 18:20, ended the scoring.

“We can still be a little tighter,” said forward Henrik Zetterberg, as the Red Wings allowed 37 shots to the Penguins. “Still too many turnovers tonight again, and it’ll cost you when you play against these type of players.”

It was another frustrating evening for the Red Wings (18-13-7, 43 points), who lost their third consecutive game in regulation time for the second time this season (the first was Oct. 16-21).

Special teams were a huge factor.

The Penguins were 2-for-3 on the power play, the Red Wings scoreless on three opportunities.

“Our specialty teams combined have to be much better,” coach Jeff Blashill said.

The Red Wings now go on the road for six consecutive games and don’t return to Joe Louis Arena until a Jan. 17 game against the Flyers.

“Obviously we’re giving up too many goals here lately, especially in the last couple here,” Blashill said. “We have to do a better job of making teams earn their chances. We’re giving up too many chances.”

Justin Abdelkader and Brendan Smith scored for the Red Wings.

Patric Hornqvist and Letang had power play goals for the Penguins (18-15-4, 40 points).

“They’re dangerous,” said Blashill after the morning skate. “I know they’ve some problems (scoring) but they feel dangerous out there. The whole league is extraordinarily tight to me. The difference (among teams) is real minimal.”

For all their dazzling offensive stars the Penguins came into the game ranked 26th on the power play — but rallied in the second period with two power play goals.

Danny DeKeyser was in the box for both penalties, hooking at the 15 second mark and interfering at 11:14.

On the first Penguins goal Pittsburgh won the draw and worked the puck to Malkin, who lined a shot on Mrazek.

Mrazek made the save but the puck lay in the crease. While scrambling to get back upright, Mrazek kicked the puck into the net with his right skate.

The Red Wings challenged the play, feeling Mrazek was interfered in the crease with Hornqvist.

But video confirmed there was no interference before the puck crossed the goal line, resulting in Hornqvist’s seventh goal this season.

The Penguins overcame two Letang penalties in the first half of the second period, then converted with their own power play on DeKeyser’s second penalty.

Letang received the puck at the point, skated toward the net, and with Mrazek being screened and slightly stumbling, Letang placed a shot into a vacant corner at 11:44.

It was only Letang’s 2nd goal in an injury-marred season.

“They came in and were desperate, a little grittier for some reason than us,” forward Brad Richards said. “We got out of our game as it went on and we just didn’t have the right flow after they scored their power play goals.”

The Red Wings lost forward Tomas Jurco to an upper body injury in first period. Jurco didn't return and Blashill had no update on Jurco after the game.