Penguins Near Second in Row : Hockey: They beat Blackhawks, 1-0, for 10th consecutive playoff victory and can sweep the Stanley Cup finals on Monday night.
In an effort to save money, city officials here considered holding a combined victory celebration at Grant Park if the Blackhawks win their first Stanley Cup since 1961 and the Bulls win their second consecutive NBA title.
But the plan was scrapped after protests.
It looks as if they won’t have to worry about a victory celebration for the Blackhawks, who lost by 1-0 to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals Saturday night before a sellout crowd of 18,472 at Chicago Stadium. The Penguins lead the series, 3-0.
The Toronto Maple Leafs, who came back from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Detroit Red Wings 50 years ago, are the only team in NHL history that has recovered from a such a deficit in the finals.
The Penguins, who have won a club-record 10 playoff games in a row, can wrap up their second consecutive NHL championship in Game 4 here Monday night. The last team to win back-to-back Stanley Cups was the Edmonton Oilers in 1987 and 1988.
“I’ve been in this position before,” said Penguin Coach Scotty Bowman, who guided Montreal to five Stanley Cups. “We know we have to win four games. Chicago came out very strong tonight and they’ll be even stronger the next game.”
Asked if the Blackhawks are reduced to playing for pride, Chicago Coach Mike Keenan snapped at a reporter: “We’re not going to play for pride, we’re going to play for victory. That sentiment you just delivered says we’re finished.”
But the Blackhawks, who had won 11 consecutive games going into the Stanley Cup, probably are finished unless they retool their offense. After scoring four goals in the series opener, Chicago has scored only one goal in the last two games.
Penguin goalie Tom Barrasso scored his 37th career playoff victory and second shutout, making 27 saves. After facing 13 shots during the first period, Barrasso faced only 14 in the final two periods. Chicago didn’t have a shot in the first 10 minutes of the third period.
Penguin center Bryan Trottier, who helped the New York Islanders win four consecutive Stanley Cups in the 1980s, says Barrasso, who hasn’t given up a goal in the last 89:36, is playing as well as goalie Billy Smith, who helped build the Islander dynasty.
“Billy Smith had a lot of shaky playoff games, but that made him that much more hungry,” Trottier said. “But Tommy has been playing well from Game 1. If the team isn’t playing well, Tommy is playing well. I am one of Tom Barrasso’s biggest fans. He has given us great goaltending.”
Barrasso also had some luck. Defensman Chris Chelios and right wing Steve Larmer hit the post with first-period shots.
“We may have been a little bit snake bitten,” Keenan said. “We never got a bounce tonight. Larmer rang one off the post early in the game that could have given us some momentum.”
Perhaps Barrasso’s best save came when he blocked a shot by Michel Goulet with 1:04 remaining to preserve the victory.
Chicago goalie Ed Belfour also played well, making 19 saves, but was victimized by a fluke goal by left wing Kevin Stevens.
The Penguins scored at 15:26 of the first period when a shot from the left point by defenseman Jim Paek deflected off a Blackhawk, hit the skate of Stevens and went into the net.
“It was a fluke goal, but sometimes these things happen,” Stevens said. “It went off my skate into the net. I turned around and was covered pretty well, but it hit me and trickled into the net.”
Keenan was heavily criticized in the local media for benching center Jeremy Roenick, Chicago’s leading scorer, and right wing Steve Larmer for the third period of the Blackhawks’ 3-1 loss in Game 2.
Roenick showed up at a news conference Friday with his right wrist in a cast. Keenan claimed that Roenick had a broken bone in his right thumb after being slashed twice by Stevens and right wing Rick Tocchet during the second period. No penalties were called by referee Terry Gregson.
However, Roenick didn’t complain of an injury when he spoke with reporters after the game and the cast was off when he took the ice Saturday. Roenick’s alleged injury might have been a ploy by Keenan to get an edge from the officials; referee Don Koharski awarded the Blackhawks five power plays during Game 3.
But the Blackhawks failed to score on their power plays and are scoreless on 14 during the series.
Game 3 featured the first major brawl of the finals.
Chicago pulled Belfour for an extra skater with 55 seconds to play, but gave up the advantage 24 seconds later when Chelios drew a five-minute fighting penalty and a game misconduct for battling defenseman Larry Murphy, who had cross-checked Chelios in the face.