DETROIT (Reuters) - The Detroit Red Wings took advantage of their greater experience to seal a 4-0 victory over the youthful Pittsburgh Penguins in Game One of the Stanley Cup final on Saturday.
Since the seven-game finals format was introduced in 1939, the winner of the first has gone on to lift the Cup 77.9 percent of the time. Only seven percent of teams that have trailed 2-0 have claimed the trophy.
Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien described his team’s performance as its worst of the playoffs.
“It’s a good lesson,” Therrien told reporters. “They played a really good game. They deserve a lot of credit. But in the meantime, we didn’t play our game. I’m expecting a better effort from our team.”
The talk heading into the series was Detroit’s great experience head-to-head with the young and powerful Penguins led by Sidney Crosby, the NHL’s brightest young talent and heir-apparent to the legacy of his boss Mario Lemieux and the great one himself, Wayne Gretzky.
Detroit and Pittsburgh’s top players largely cancelled each other out, leaving it to lesser names to settle the issue.
Mikael Samuelsson scored two unassisted goals and veteran Detroit goaltender Chris Osgood made several key saves.
Detroit coach Mike Babcock said his team appeared nervous in the first period but settled down before Samuelsson’s opening goal, which changed the game.
“We had some puck-luck on the first penalty kills, Ossie made some really good saves,” Babcock said. “The game could be totally different.”
“We played fine, I thought we had a good tempo and yet they had chances.”
Crosby said the Penguins would need to use their greater speed better to put more pressure on Detroit’s defense in the rest of the series.
“They play tight,” Crosby said. “I don’t think we came in expecting an easy series.”
Reporting by David Bailey; Editing by Ed Osmond