DETROIT – Detroit may be suffering but there were no signs of recession at the sold-out Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final.
A crowd of 20,066 packed the Joe Louis Arena on Saturday to watch the defending champion Detroit Red Wings beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1.
Red Wings centre Johan Franzen broke a 1-1 tie in the second period, Justin Abdelkader scored his first NHL goal and Brad Stuart added one more for Detroit. Ruslan Fedotenko scored the Penguins only goal.
The strong turnout in the Motor City, with its recession ravaged auto industry, is good news for the NHL which is fighting a bankruptcy case in Phoenix over the possible relocation of the struggling Coyotes.
At his pre-game press conference, commissioner Gary Bettman highlighted the league’s revenue growth and pointed to the past financial troubles of the Penguins and Red Wings as proof of the NHL’s vitality.
If the NHL was hoping for an intriguing final to boost ticket sales, it doesn’t get much better than the rematch between Detroit and Pittsburgh, the first time in 25 years two teams have played each other in the Cup final two years in a row.
The Red Wings, led by former Penguin forward Marian Hossa, are looking for their 12th franchise championship after defeating the Penguins in six games last year.
Pittsburgh is hoping to become the first team since the 1984 Edmonton Oilers to win the Stanley Cup a year after losing in the final.