DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit Red Wings fan, with a toy octopi strapped on his back, led a one-man chant after the defending champions took their second straight 2-0 lead over the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup finals.
"Just like last year!" the man shouted in an emptying arena. "Just like last year!"
Different scores. Same situation.
Detroit beat the Penguins 3-1 Sunday night, just as they did the previous night, after shutting them out by a combined score of 7-0 in the first two games of last year's finals.
Pittsburgh, though, is undeterred.
"I think we outplayed them," Penguins defenseman Hall Gill said. "Last year, we got outplayed pretty badly."
Game 3 is Tuesday night in Pittsburgh, where the Eastern Conference champions will battle a modern-day dynasty and history.
Thirty-two teams have lost the first two Stanley Cup finals games on the road and only the 1971 Montreal Canadiens rallied to win it all.
Even though the odds favor the Red Wings being the first to repeat since they did it in 1998, goaltender Chris Osgood isn't getting cocky about their chances against the Penguins.
"They were good last year, but they're making smarter plays than last year," Osgood said. "They've given us everything we can handle in two games.
"We're up 2-0, but I think we can play better."
It's difficult to imagine Osgood being more successful on this stage.
Osgood, who was Detroit's No. 1 goaltender on its 1998 championship team, improved to 10-2 and dropped his goals-against average to 1.47 in the Stanley Cup finals.
"I think they're goalie was their best player," Pittsburgh forward Pascal Dupuis said.
The Red Wings still delivered without one of their stars, MVP finalist Pavel Datsyuk.
Valtteri Filppula scored the go-ahead goal midway through the second period, sandwiching his tally between goals from youngsters Jonathan Ericsson and Justin Abdelkader, who became the first rookie to score in consecutive games in the finals since Minnesota's Dino Ciccarelli in 1981.
"The depth of this team is obviously incredible," said Ericsson, who played just four days after having his appendix removed.
The Red Wings improved to 11-0 this postseason when leading after two periods, moving halfway toward putting another championship banner in the crowded rafters at Joe Louis Arena.
"They're a good team," Pittsburgh forward Chris Kunitz said. "They've shown that for the last 10, 12 years."
Detroit is shooting for its fifth title in 12 seasons and the 12th Cup in franchise history.
If the Red Wings continue to shut down superstar Sidney Crosby, their chances will greatly improve. Crosby was held without a point in two straight games for the first time this postseason.
Unlike the Red Wings, he hasn't gotten much puck luck.
Crosby was denied by the post in the third period and video replay confirmed he didn't score, leading to him spitting in disgust from the bench as the announcement was made.
Pittsburgh can only hope Crosby responds as he did last year, scoring twice in Game 3 after failing to score or make an assist in the first two games of the 2008 Cup finals.
Teammate Evgeni Malkin is off to a much better start against Detroit compared to last year at this time when he didn't have a point until Game 5.
Malkin scored the Penguins only goal Sunday night, putting them ahead late in the first period, after assisting on their lone score in Game 1.
The MVP finalist leads the NHL with 30 points this postseason, making him the first player to be that productive since Colorado's Joe Sakic had 34 points in 1996.
His emotions boiled over with 18.2 seconds left, setting up a fight with Henrik Zetterberg after Pittsburgh's Max Talbot stuck his stick in Osgood's midsection after he made his 31st save.
Malkin was subject to a one-game suspension for being assessed in the final 5 minutes, but that punishment was quickly rescinded by league disciplinarian Colin Campbell.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.
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