Hockeytown is getting the Stanley Cup again.
Brian Rafalski, Valtteri Filppula and Henrik Zetterberg scored in a 3-2 victory that gave the Detroit Red Wings the NHL championship series four games to two last night.
Evgeni Malkin and Marian Hossa scored Pittsburgh’s goals.
Nicklas Lidstrom became the first European to captain a Stanley Cup winner as Detroit won its fourth title in 12 years. Lidstrom also was on the 1997, 1998 and 2002 championships teams.
Henrik Zetterberg accumulated a franchise-record 27 points in Detroit’s 16-6 playoff run, picking up the Conn Smythe Trophy as post-season MVP.
“It feels pretty good,” said Zetterberg, who joined Lidstrom as the only European players to be named playoff MVP. “It’s been a long season. When we lost a few nights ago in Joe Louis, it was devastating.
(But) we found a way to battle back.
“It’s just a great feeling. There’s some great names on (the trophy).”
He was aided by an offence that also got big boosts from Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen. The blue-line corps featuring five-time Norris Trophy winner Lidstrom was outstanding, and Chris Osgood was steady as a rock in the nets after replacing a slumping Dominik Hasek in the first round.
Detroit outshot Pittsburgh 30-22 in the clincher and in all six games of the final to finish 222-142 in the series.
General manager Ken Holland built a swift and highly-skilled roster ideally suited for this NHL era of zero tolerance of obstruction fouls, and coach Mike Babcock implemented systems that featured forechecking and backchecking that frustrated opponents.
The experience factor helped, too. Eleven Red Wings with 24 Stanley Cup rings, compared to three Penguins with four rings.
Detroit’s 2-0 edge after two games also loomed large. Teams winning the first two games of the final at home were 30-1 in pursuit of the Stanley Cup previously and, as hard as the courageous Penguins tried, they couldn’t climb out of the hole.