So that’s what it might come down to, eh?
Boards as live as downtown Royal Oak on a Friday night. The puck pinballing off Marc-Andre Fleury into the Pittsburgh net.
If this was baseball, the official scorer would call the second goal E-G — an error on goalie Chris Osgood. Unable to gobble up a rebound, and a gift for Penguins forward Ruslan Fedotenko.
That’s what the first period ended up boiling down to, in Game One of the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals.
Brad Stuart opened the scoring, not that he was trying.
Stuart stopped a clearing attempt at the Pittsburgh blue line, and slung the puck toward the net. It wasn’t even on net, but at Joe Louis Arena, that’s not always the plan.
For the boards at the Joe often springboard the puck back toward danger. Never was it more so than here.
The puck caromed back into the right pad of Fleury, who was splayed out in the goaltending butterfly position.
Fleury likely didn’t even know that the vulcanized rubber disc even touched him. Likely it was the roar of the JLA crowd that tipped him off.
By that time it was too late. The puck had rattled off Fleury and slipped behind him, just over the goal line.
At 13:38, it was 1-0 Detroit. Stuart got credited for the unassisted goal, but the line should read:
Stuart 2 (end boards) 13:38; 1-0 Detroit.
Next, it was Osgood’s turn to play the fool.
Ozzie couldn’t gather in Evgeni Malkin’s slap shot, and despite a frantic attempt to cover it with his trapper, the puck lay loose for Fedotenko, who neatly put it to his backhand and flipped it into the open net.
At 18:37, the game was tied at 1-1.
Observations: this is going to be a long, bitter, angry series.
The teams have already seemed to work up a hatred for each other, although maybe it’s a carryover from last year’s Finals matchup.
Regardless, the play was chippy, the after-whistle stuff was nasty, and that was before the period was 10 minutes old.
The Red Wings carried the play, mostly, but after watching two fluke goals being scored, it makes one wonder if outplaying your opponent will mean a hill of beans in this series.
No penalties were called, which I think I like.
There certainly could have been, though.
Detroit’s Marian Hossa was mugged in the Pens’ zone, but the cops, er, refs, were looking the other way, I guess.
SOG: Detroit 11, Pittsburgh 7.
Fluke goals: one apiece.