Before this year's Stanley Cup Finals began, the Penguins vowed they would avoid the slow start of last year's matchup with the Red Wings in which they dropped the first two games at Joe Louis Arena and were shutout in both games. While Pittsburgh pushed the series to six games, most of the Penguins felt that the series was lost in the first two games in Detroit.
Well, this time around, the Penguins did managed to score a pair of goals, but still will head back to Western Pennsylvania down two games to none in a matchup that could quickly be slipping away from the Pens if things don't change in a hurry.
While the Penguins were trying to evoke the 1984 Edmonton Oilers in their dethroning the defending champion New York Islanders, right now, the Penguins are in more in danger of evoking the 1978 Boston Bruins - the last team to lose back-to-back Stanley Cup Finals.
While Evgeni Malkin was able to put the Penguins on top with 3:10 left in the first period with a goal off a scramble in front of Chris Osgood, the Red Wings roared back to life in the second period, outshooting the Wings 16-9 and grabbing a 2-1 lead.
It was the grinders of the Wings who are getting the job done as well, as Detroit has been successful in rolling four lines against Pittsburgh - while also holding the Pens' two stars mostly in check, as Malkin has just a goal and an assist in two games, and Sidney Crosby has no points in two games.
Jonathan Ericsson tied the score on a long shot through traffic with 4:21 gone in the second, and then Valtteri Filppula was able to put Detroit on top with 9:31 left in the frame.
Justin Abdelkader scored his second goal in two games on a goal that Marc-Andre Fleury should have handled, as while at the top of the circle and facing two Penguins defensemen in Hal Gill and Rob Scuderi, he spun and fired a shot that eluded Fleury and just hit the top corner of the net for a 3-1 lead with 2:47 gone in the period.
While the Penguins turned it on in the third to try to draw closer, the Wings' defense held and allowed the Wings to take command with a 2-0 series lead.
It certainly wasn't the start the Penguins wanted, as there was a lot of confidence by the Pens that things would be different against the Red Wings this time around.
Detroit's depth is being able to put pucks past Fleury, as only one of six Red Wings goals in this series was by a player who finished in the Top 10 of Detroit's goal-scorers (Johan Franzen in Game 1). While Marian Hossa has been held without a goal - and Pavel Datsyuk has missed both games due to injury - players such as Abdelkader are making the difference so far in this series.
The Pens also are seeming to be showing their frustration as well, as after Crosby jabbed Kirk Maltby right after Game 1 ended, Malkin went after Henrik Zetterberg during a scramble in front of the Pittsburgh net in the dying seconds of Game 2. The Wings certainly still appear to be in the Penguins' heads, and they will need to turn the momentum in a hurry or else this, like last year, will slip away.
The Penguins will have just 48 hours to regroup and try to avoid a 3-0 hole when they return home to Mellon Arena Tuesday. They will need a better performance from their goalkeeper and more scoring from their role players in order to finish a rally in this series.