Pens' 'clearing' issues help Red Wings score go-ahead goal

Updated: June 1, 2008, 12:39 AM ET

Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

After Pittsburgh failed to clear the puck out of its zone, Jiri Hudler and the Wings capitalized.

GAME 4'S DEFINING MOMENT

PITTSBURGH -- With one period of hockey left, Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals was piano-wire tight.

With the score tied at 1 through 40 minutes and both teams finding scoring chances at a premium, the feeling seemed to permeate through Mellon Arena that the next goal might well turn out to be the difference, even though both teams are offensively gifted.

It was so, and the winning goal was a perfect illustration of just how fine the line is between winning and losing.

The Penguins had at least two, maybe three, chances to clear the puck from their own zone. At the end of a shift, Gary Roberts, Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy couldn't manage to get control long enough to nudge the puck outside the blue line. Instead, Detroit defenseman Brad Stuart stepped up, kept the puck in the Pittsburgh zone and fed the puck toward the front of the net, where Jiri Hudler snapped a backhand that seemed to surprise Pittsburgh netminder Marc-Andre Fleury and beat him to the short side.

It was Hudler's first point of the Cup finals series and his first point in five games.

"Good teams find a way to win," Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien said after the game. "Their fourth line scored the winning goal."

Scott Burnside is the NHL writer for ESPN.com.


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GAME 4 BREAKDOWN

GAME 4 -- THREE STARS

Lidstrom

Nicklas Lidstrom
The veteran Wings defenseman and Norris Trophy finalist made it look real easy in Game 4, firing a wicked slap shot from the point that Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury never saw coming.

Henrik Zetterberg
Zetterberg had no points, but his strong defensive play was a big reason for Detroit's win, particularly during the Penguins' 5-on-3 opportunity in the third period. Zetterberg made a key play by holding down Sidney Crosby's stick right in front of the net and preventing the Pens captain from scoring.

Marian Hossa
Despite the Penguins' loss, this was Marian Hossa's best game of the Cup finals. He was aggressive on the forecheck, made many sharp passes and scored on the power play early in the first period. It was his first goal of the series.

E.J. HRADEK'S TAKE

I'm starting to think Detroit defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom is hockey's version of baseball icon Joe DiMaggio. Now, I never saw Joe D play, but I have seen plenty of old film of the Yankees legend. DiMaggio was remembered for his skill and grace on the ball field. Lidstrom is much the same on the rink. In my mind, he has the sweetest backswing (on his slap shot) that I've ever seen.

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