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Penguins back in it

Pittsburgh cuts series lead to 2-1

Associated Press

PITTSBURGH — The Detroit Red Wings applied so much pressure and were so in control at times while pushing for the victory that would have effectively ended the Stanley Cup finals, the Pittsburgh Penguins could have used an extra man.

Turns out they had one for nearly 30 seconds during their 4-2 comeback win in Game 3 on Tuesday, an advantage the on-ice officials didn’t spot despite some frantic stick-pounding by those on the Red Wings’ bench.

Need any more proof the Penguins were willing to do anything to save the series?

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"We were going, huh?" forward Max Talbot said, laughing at how the Penguins inadvertently created their own power play. "It was great. Yeah, we got some breaks."

In reality, it was more like bend but don’t break for the Penguins as the Red Wings took a 2-1 lead during a frantic first period, then were so dominating during the second period that they ended it with a 26-11 advantage in shots.

One more goal, one more power play might have ended it, until the Penguins suddenly found themselves and recovered to take a 3-2 lead on Sergei Gonchar’s power-play goal with 10:29 gone in the third.

Just in time, too, as the Penguins understood what falling behind Detroit 3-0 in the best-of-seven series would mean — a potential Stanley Cup-clincher as early as Thursday in their own arena, where the Red Wings raised the Cup in Game 6 last spring.

"I don’t want to say it was a must win, but I think everybody knows that we needed to win this game," said Talbot, whose two goals while shifting between several lines included an empty-net score in the final minute.

In winning, the Penguins had everything they lacked in losing twin 3-1 decisions in the first two games in Detroit, including start-to-finish confidence, resiliency and scoring from throughout their lineup. A sense of desperation, too.

"No team wants to go down 3-0," forward Jordan Staal said. "I think we’re starting to understand the way we have to play and it seemed like everyone really came together and did the right things out there."

Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury didn’t allow any soft goals and, during Detroit’s second-period surge, played better than he has since making 45 saves during a key first-round game in Philadelphia. He also outplayed Chris Osgood, who lost for only the third time in 13 finals games.

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"I know in the first and second game, maybe he got criticized a little bit," Talbot said of Fleury, who made 27 saves. "Tonight, he was definitely first."

Sidney Crosby still didn’t find the net as Henrik Zetterberg shadowed him whenever possible — Crosby has one assist in three games — but playoff scoring leader Evgeni Malkin set up the first three goals.

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