Penguins get too emotional

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Revived by a day’s rest and the return of Pavel Datsyuk, the Red Wings reduced the Penguins to a bunch of petulant 2-year-olds Saturday while moving to within one victory of claiming the Stanley Cup for the second successive season.

Capitalizing on a series of bad Pittsburgh penalties during the second period, Detroit turned Game 5 of the finals into a 5-0 rout before a happy and Cup-craving crowd at Joe Louis Arena.

On Tuesday the Red Wings can clinch their 12th title in franchise history, become the first team to repeat since their triumphs in 1997 and 1998 and prove that gray but clear heads can prevail over even the swiftest and most youthful legs.


Despite looking tired in losing Games 3 and 4, the Red Wings had enough energy Saturday to ride out an early Penguins push and capitalize when their opponents’ discipline dissolved faster than the mood of a toddler denied a favorite toy.

Waah! Sergei Gonchar slashed Datsyuk, went to the box and watched Niklas Kronwall whip a shot past a befuddled Marc-Andre Fleury at 6:11 for a 3-0 lead.

Waah! Postseason scoring leader Evgeni Malkin, rendered invisible by Detroit’s relentless defensive efforts, elbowed Johan Franzen into the glass and got a penalty-box view of Brian Rafalski rifling the puck off the left post and in at 8:26.

Waah! Top-line left wing Chris Kunitz was sent off for roughing Darren Helm, and Henrik Zetterberg made him pay with a shot from the right circle at 15:40, Detroit’s final goal and the last shot seen by Fleury before he was replaced by former King Mathieu Garon.

“I like to forget about it as soon as possible and move on,” Fleury said of his habits after bad losses, but this one -- the Penguins’ largest margin of defeat in 22 playoff games -- might be more difficult to bury.

Sidney Crosby, held to one shot by Zetterberg’s defensive wizardry, let his frustration boil over into a slash of Zetterberg at 17:37, and Maxime Talbot slashed at Datsyuk’s bad ankle at 17:57 to get two more of Pittsburgh’s 48 penalty minutes.


The Penguins didn’t get burned those times, but those offenses summed up their emotional state.

“I think our guys were frustrated and then trying to play physical and started to get off the page by trying to run around and be physical,” Penguins Coach Dan Bylsma said.

“We certainly tried to regroup and get back to staying on the same page, but emotions come to the surface in hockey and they forced us into a situation where we were frustrated and they had a big lead with the crowd going at home.”

The Red Wings, playing their sixth game in 11 days, didn’t mount on their locker room bulletin board any of the apparently premature reports of their demise.

“We don’t need to do that,” said forward Daniel Cleary, who scored the only goal of the first period on a long wrist shot that Fleury should have stopped.

“We’ve got a group in here that prides itself in being a good team, good players working hard. Too old, too slow, all this kind of stuff, that’s just extra motivation for us. We just believe we’re a hardworking team that plays the game the right way.”


As opposed to the way the Penguins played Saturday.

“When it’s out of reach like that early, frustration sets in,” Cleary said. “But we didn’t let it bother us.”

The trick for the Penguins is whether they’ll be able to let go of this and hold serve Tuesday at Mellon Arena.

Home teams have won each game of these finals -- the last finals to play out that way over seven games was the Ducks’ 2003 loss to the New Jersey Devils -- and an end to that pattern would end the Penguins’ season.

The Penguins said they’re glad of the extra day’s time out to prepare for Game 6 and vowed to put it to good use.

“In the end, you could lose 10-0, but it’s still only worth one game,” defenseman Rob Scuderi said. “It’s 3-2 in the series. Just because they beat us bad doesn’t mean they win the Stanley Cup tonight. They still have to beat us one more time and we’re going to be ready for them Tuesday night.”

Ready to play with the grown-ups? Or to be sent back to the sandbox?

Crosby initially said the Penguins had “been here before,” but corrected himself to acknowledge the Penguins hadn’t experienced so thorough a setback this spring.


“But a loss is a loss. It’s unfortunate that we didn’t have a better effort, but the reality is we’ve got to go home and win one,” he said. “We’ve got to have our best game in our next game.”

Or it will be their last game. Any kid could figure that out.