DETROIT - The Red Wings found a perfect way to move halfway to a repeat - beat the Pittsburgh Penguins back-to-back.
So much for Detroit being old, beaten down and needing a break. The Red Wings topped the Penguins, 3-1, in Game 2 of the finals last night and are two wins from holding onto the Stanley Cup.
Just as they did a year ago in winning the title for the 11th time and fourth in 11 seasons, the Red Wings took the first two games from the Penguins at home. This year posed a new challenge, sweeping a pair on consecutive nights three days after finishing the Western Conference finals.
Rookie defenseman Jonathan Ericsson, who watched that series clincher Wednesday night in the dressing room hours after having his appendix removed, scored the tying goal for Detroit in the second period.
Valtteri Filppula added the go-ahead tally 6 minutes, 8 seconds later.
The Red Wings left the ice in front of their cheering, towel-waving fans and headed for Pittsburgh with another commanding lead.
Game 3 is Tuesday night, and the odds favor the Red Wings' quest to become the NHL's first repeat champion since they did it in 1997 and '98. Teams that win Games 1 and 2 at home have captured the Cup 31 of 32 times.
Frustration boiled over for Pittsburgh with 18.2 seconds left, when Max Talbot stuck his stick in goalie Chris Osgood's midsection after he made his 31st save. That led to a fight between Evgeni Malkin and Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg.
Pittsburgh 1 0 0 – 1
Detroit 0 2 1 – 3
First period: 1, Pittsburgh, Malkin 13 (Letang, Guerin), 16:50 (pp). Penalties: Kronwall, Det (cross-checking), 16:08.
Second period: 2, Detroit, Ericsson 3 (Hudler, Helm), 4:21. 3, Detroit, Filppula 2 (Holmstrom, Hossa), 10:29. Penalties: Malkin, Pit (interference), 8:15.
Third period: 4, Detroit, Abdelkader 2 (Holmstrom, Hossa), 2:47. Penalties: Talbot, Pit (slashing), 19:41; Malkin, Pit, minor-major-misconduct (instigator, fighting), 19:41; Zetterberg, Det, major (fighting), 19:41.
Shots on Goal: Pittsburgh 11-9-12–32. Detroit 7-16-3–26.
Power-play opportunities: Pittsburgh 1 of 1; Detroit 0 of 2.
Goalies: Pittsburgh, Fleury 12-7-0 (26 shots-23 saves). Detroit, Osgood 14-4-0 (32-31).
Referees: Bill McCreary, Marc Joannette. Linesmen: Jean Morin, Steve Miller.