PITTSBURGH -- By decree of the Hockey Gods, the odds and the will of both the National Hockey League and its television partners, aren't the Pittsburgh Penguins supposed to win Game 3 and make this a 2-1 series?
"It's always in the back of your mind," said Penguins center Jordan Staal after today's skate at Mellon Arena. "But they're a great road team as well."
That the Detroit Red Wings are. "Part of it is depth, part of it is knowing how to play," said Wings Coach Mike Babcock.
"We just have to play a real simple game."
There's a sense among the Penguins that they haven't seen the best from the Red Wings yet, but there's also a sense that they've played better in these first two games than they played in last season's opening duo. "It hasn't been lack of chances, we just haven't gotten breaks," said Sidney Crosby. "If we get those same chances tonight, I like our chances."
Crosby sees echoes of this series in the Penguins' semifinals rally to beat the Washington Capitals after being down 2-0. "For the most part, we were the better team [in those games]."
So the Penguins enter Game 3 cautious but confident; encouraged by the strides they made in Detroit, but knowing that tonight is no gimmie.
"Guys are still pretty positive here. It's a lot different than last year, that's for sure," said Brooks Orpik. "We've heard all the stats, about how we have no chance. I don't know ... it's not like last year when we were coming back here and thinking they were a much better team than we were. I think it's an even playing field. We may have even outplayed them for stretches in the first two games."
And that pesky, oft-quoted stat that the all-time record of home clubs sweeping Games 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup Final is 31-1?
"Each series has its own identity," said Chris Kunitz. "We have to take it on our shoulders tonight and prove that."
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