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Pens ponder squandered scoring chances

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By Mike Prisuta
Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Sidney Crosby and his linemates haven't yet gone coast to coast in the Stanley Cup Final, but they've gone post to post.

Bill Guerin rang one off the pipe to goaltender Chris Osgood's right in the second period of Game 2 on Sunday night at Joe Louis Arena after accepting a pass from behind the net by Crosby.

Crosby struck iron to Osgood's right at the other end early in the third period after emerging from behind the net. Crosby fired a second attempt from the doorstep after collecting the rebound, but the puck ended up under center Henrik Zetterberg in the crease inches shy of the goal line.

Later in the third, Crosby collected a short pass from Chris Kunitz at center ice. He maneuvered across the Detroit blueline, around winger Johan Franzen and past defenseman Brian Rafalski, and unleashed a shot from inside the right faceoff dot that Osgood managed to get a skate or pad on (Osgood was uncertain enough that he took a quick look over his left shoulder, just to be certain).

There was also that bizarre play in Game 1 where the puck somehow left Crosby's stick and wound up on Osgood's back before Zetterberg covered the puck and Osgood in the paint.

Crosby has yet to register a point in the series, but there have been opportunities aplenty.

"We've out-chanced them in two games," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "We would have taken that on the road."

The Penguins also have outshot the Red Wings twice.

They've done all that despite Crosby playing for the most part in a high-profile matchup against Zetterberg and the defense tandem of Nicklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski.

What they haven't done yet is beat Detroit.

"They've been better at getting the timely goal," Bylsma said. "They've been better at that net-front area in getting to loose pucks.

"That's a credit to them."

The dynamic changes for Game 3 tonight at Mellon Arena, with Bylsma, as the home coach, having the last line change following stoppages in play.

NBC analyst Mike Milbury said following Game 2 that the Penguins "gotta find ways to shake (Crosby) loose."

Bylsma said the last-change option is one he "may" take advantage of with Crosby, "depending on the situation."

After two games only Evgeni Malkin (10) has fired more shots at Osgood than Crosby (seven).

Kunitz also has seven shots on goal.

And Guerin would be tied for fourth among Penguins in that department with Ruslan Fedotenko (six) had that second-period attempt in Game 2 found the net rather than the post.

Such numbers suggest the Penguins' big guns are getting their looks and that the matchups have been relatively favorable.

The problem is only Fedotenko and Malkin have converted opportunities into goals.

"Crosby has done a good job of working and battling through it," Bylsma said. "We've had pucks around their goalie, in the crease, on the goalie, scrambles.

"If those go in you think Sid had a great game and he wins the matchup."

Of course, they didn't and Crosby hasn't.

Still, Kunitz said his threesome hasn't felt overmatched against the Zetterberg line, which includes wingers Daniel Cleary and Franzen.

"We've had our chances," Kunitz said. "They're good players, big bodies. They go to the net hard. They're good on faceoffs and scrums around the faceoff circles; that's something we have to work at a little bit better.

"But I think it's been a fairly good matchup so far."

Crosby wasn't available for comment Monday.

Bylsma likened what they've gone through against Osgood to what happened early in the second round against Washington rookie Simeon Varlamov.

"We have to do a better job of getting to that net, taking advantage of the opportunities," Bylsma said. "We've had this scenario before where we've felt like their goalie has played real well.

"We gotta keep at it. We gotta keep getting pucks there and people there and we gotta be determined to break through."

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