It looked dire for the Penguins on Tuesday night, outshot by 26-11 after two periods, lucky to be tied with the Red Wings and desperately trying not to fall behind by three games to none in the Stanley Cup finals.
But in the third period, they found what they needed when the veteran defenseman Sergei Gonchar fired from inside the blue line on a power play with less than 10 minutes to play. The puck traveled through a screen provided by Bill Guerin and past Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood to give Pittsburgh the lead for good on its way to a 4-2 victory.
Gonchar’s goal and a strong team performance in the third period, when Pittsburgh outshot Detroit, 10-3, saved the Penguins from near-certain elimination and electrified the roaring crowd of 17,132 at the Mellon Arena. The series resumes Thursday night with the visiting Red Wings holding a 2-1 lead.
Max Talbot, who scored the game’s first goal and its last into an empty net, talked about what happened in the Penguins’ dressing room after the team barely survived the second period.
“Our coach got us as soon as we got off the ice,” Talbot said, referring to Dan Bylsma. “ ‘Everybody sit down and just relax, guys. Bear down. Keep it simple.’ But nothing needed to be said. We knew how important that third period was, and we needed to get it.”