PITTSBURGH - The Stanley Cup Finals won't be a duplicate of last year's, and a momentum-swinging period by the Pittsburgh Penguins put in doubt whether there will be a repeat champion.
Jordan Staal's shorthanded goal during back-to-back Detroit power plays started Pittsburgh's comeback last night, and the Penguins scored three goals in less than six minutes of the second period to win, 4-2, and tie the series at two games apiece.
Evgeni Malkin, enjoying the best postseason since Wayne Gretzky in 1993, and Sidney Crosby had a goal and an assist each to help rally the Penguins from a 2-1 deficit a year to the day after the Red Wings raised the Stanley Cup in Pittsburgh by winning Game 6.
Tyler Kennedy also scored for the Penguins, and Marc-Andre Fleury, with his second successive excellent game, made 37 saves.
Until Game 4, the Finals followed the same pattern as last year's: Detroit won the first two games at home, then dropped Game 3 in Pittsburgh. But the Red Wings couldn't follow up on their 2-1 road victory in Game 4 last year, one decided largely when they killed off Pittsburgh's lengthy five-on-three advantage, and now these Finals are the best of three.
The Red Wings were done in by a bad second period and dreadful special teams. Pittsburgh has converted on four of nine power plays, and this game swung when the Penguins got a goal - and the Red Wings didn't - during 3:59 of continuous Detroit power-play time.
With Detroit ahead by 2-1 following goals by Darren Helm and Brad Stuart less than three minutes apart to end the first period and start the second, Staal - who had only two goals in 20 playoff games - got loose after Max Talbot passed the puck up the ice.
Staal used his lengthy stride to thread two defenders and beat goalie Chris Osgood at 8:35. Staal had a record-tying total of seven short-handed goals as an 18-year-old rookie in 2006-07 but had only one since.
Staal's goal instantly changed a major opportunity by Detroit to seize control not only of the game but also the series, and the 17,132 jammed into a suddenly rocking Mellon Arena sensed how big the play might be. And they were right.
STANLEY CUP FINALS
Series tied, 2-2