DETROIT - Call this one the Fickle Finals.

Two games into the Stanley Cup championship series, all signs pointed to a Red Wings redux. They may be older and more worn down than the youthful and energized Pittsburgh Penguins, but experience, guile and winning history seemed more than enough to carry Detroit to a repeat.

That's how it played out last year. The Red Wings won the first two games in Detroit, split the next two in Pittsburgh, then wrapped up their 11th championship in six games.

Why would this time be different?

A 5 1/2-minute stretch in the second period of Game 4 Thursday turned around the series, and the opinions of many watching it. Instead of carrying a three-games-to-one lead back to Hockeytown, the defending champions are locked in a 2-2 fight.

Game 5 is tonight in Detroit, and a return to Pittsburgh for Game 6 is a sure thing.

"If you listen to what people on the outside say, Pittsburgh was done after two games. I don't think anybody in our locker room thought that," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said yesterday. "Now if you listen to what people on the outside say, the Red Wings are done after two games. I don't think that's what we think.

"What we think is that we've got a best of three, with two in our building, and we're going to come here and play well."

After the NHL crammed the first five games into an eight-day stretch, including back-to-back contests to start the series, there will be two days off before Games 6 and two more before 7, should it go the distance.