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Red Wings draw first blood in Stanley finals

THE patched-up Detroit Red Wings tamed the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 on Saturday to claim victory in Game 1 of their Stanley Cup finals rematch.

The Red Wings will have little time to savor their victory with both teams set to return to Joe Louis Arena in Detroit in less than 24 hours for the second hitout in the best-of-seven series.

A year ago, the Red Wings had overwhelmed Pittsburgh 4-0 in Game 1 on way lifting the Cup and the Penguins insisted they had learned a painful lesson from that experience.

But despite a much-improved performance, the end result was the same as the Red Wings scored once in each period and received another superb goaltending effort from Chris Osgood. Brad Stuart, Johan Franzen and rookie Justin Abdelkader, with his first career playoff goal, scored for the Wings, but Ruslan Fedotenko was the only Penguin to beat Osgood, who was razor-sharp against 32 shots.

"We made a few mistakes tonight and so did they," said Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby. "They got a few bounces and that's what it came down to. This is tight hockey. We didn't expect to come in and have it easy."

The Penguins believe the short turn-around will benefit them more than the Wings who will play their fourth game in six nights and may miss key players through injury.

Sore foot

While Detroit welcomed six-time Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom back in the line-up, Hart Trophy finalist Pavel Datsyuk was out with a sore foot.

"You've got to make sure you get some food into you and a good night's sleep," said Lidstrom, looking ahead to Game 2. "When the game starts tomorrow, I think you have to keep the shifts a little shorter."

Game 1 will not be remembered as a Stanley Cup classic with two of the Red Wings' goals a product of bad bounces and good fortune.

Stuart put Detroit on the scoreboard first when his blast from the point sailed wide of the Pittsburgh net, ricocheted off the boards and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury's leg.

But the Penguins canceled that out when Osgood failed to control a rebound off Evgeni Malkin's slap shot. Fedotenko jumped on the loose puck and swept it into the net to leave the teams 1-1 after the first period.

The Red Wings wrested the lead back with 57 seconds left in the second, a lucky bounce deflecting off Fleury's leg as he lay sprawled on the ice.

Abdelkader put the result beyond doubt for Detroit in the third, gloving the puck at the side of the Pittsburgh net, dropping it to the ice and firing it past Fleury.


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