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Wings crush Pens to take lead

THE Detroit Red Wings relished the return to home ice, recording a 5-0 thumping of the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday to take a 3-2 lead in the National Hockey League's Stanley Cup finals.

Having seen its 2-0 series lead evaporate on the road, Detroit responded with a victory that moved the defending champion within one win of its 12th Stanley Cup title and fifth in 12 seasons.

Detroit can wrap it up in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, but will have to go against the trend that has seen the hosts win every game.

The Red Wings made the Penguins pay for a lack of discipline by going 3-for-9 on the powerplay. Detroit also had a 29-22 shots advantage, the first time the home team had the edge in this series.

Detroit goaltender Chris Osgood, on the verge of his fourth Stanley Cup championship - third as the Red Wings starting goalie - made 22 saves for his 15th playoff shutout. He also earned an assist on Valtteri Filppula's goal.

The Red Wings broke the game open with four goals in the second period against beleaguered Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who left after making only 16 saves on 21 shots. It wasn't the bouncy end boards that did him in this time, as they tormented him in the first two games of the series, but rather a suddenly-potent powerplay by the Red Wings.

Pavel Datsyuk made his mark in his first appearance in eight games, notching two assists and drawing a key penalty.

Datsyuk, who had been sidelined since injuring his foot in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals, soon made his presence felt. First, he knocked Evgeni Malkin hard off the puck and then made the final pass to set up Dan Cleary's opening goal in the first period.

"He did very well for being off for as long as he has been," Detroit defenseman Brian Rafalski said. "He wasn't 100 percent Pavel Datsyuk, but I will rather take 85 percent of Pavel Datsyuk than 100 percent of other guys."

Filppula started the second-period barrage 1:44 in, making it 2-0 just five seconds after Chris Kunitz served a penalty for interfering with Osgood. That was the only even-strength goal of the period.

Niklas Kronwall pushed the lead to three goals at 6:11, 18 seconds into Sergei Gonchar's slashing penalty on Datsyuk. Rafalski made it 4-0 at 8:26, and Henrik Zetterberg - last year's playoff MVP - closed the spurt at 15:40.

The first period didn't have a stoppage until Kronwall 7:16. The fast-paced frame turned decidedly in the Red Wings' favor when they killed off the penalty without allowing a shot.

Pittsburgh had converted on four of nine powerplay chances against the Red Wing's much-maligned penalty-killers in the first four games of the series.

"Getting that first kill was a big boost for us and gave us confidence going forward," Rafalski said.

Detroit's powerplay was 1-for-10 before its big night.

"We just took too many penalties, and against this team it's only a matter of time before their powerplay starts to turn it around," Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi said.


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