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Penguins level NHL series
Pittsburgh beat Detroit Red Wings to level the series 2-2 in the Stanley Cup finals.
Last Modified: 05 Jun 2009 08:51 GMT

Evgeni Malkin takes a shot at Detroit's Chris Osgood [GALLO/GETTY] 
Evgeni Malkin lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a series levelling win in the Stanley Cup finals with a 4-2 Game Four win over the Detroit Red Wings.

Both teams have maintained wins on home ice, and the best-of-seven series now shifts back to Detroit for Game Five on Saturday deadlocked at 2-2.

"We've played four very hard games," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.

"They're hard fought and they are not going to get any easier.

"Battle lines are drawn for Game Five and it's going to be a tough one."

Russian hero

A finalist for NHL most valuable player honours, Malkin has also put himself in line for the Conn Smythe trophy as the Stanley Cup MVP, scoring a goal and setting up another.

Through the first four games of the finals, the 22-year-old Russian has had a hand in 7-of-10 Pittsburgh goals and leads the playoff scoring race with 35 points.

Only "the Great One" Wayne Gretzky (47) and Penguins owner Mario Lemieux (44) have posted better numbers in a single post-season.

During the first four games of last year's finals, Malkin had come under harsh criticism after failing to score a single point.

He has been a one-man wrecking crew this year, turning around a Stanley Cup rematch that had been a carbon copy of last season's final when eventual winners Detroit claimed two convincing wins at home and then lost Game Three.

Ruslan Fedotenko feels the love from Detroit's Mikael Samuelsson [GALLO/GETTY]
Early powerplay

The Penguins broke from the script midway through the second period in Game Four, pumping three goals past Detroit netminder Chris Osgood in less than six minutes.

Malkin opened the scoring with a powerplay goal early in the first period, swiping a backhand from the side of the net past Osgood, bringing the capacity crowd at the Igloo to its feet.

The Red Wings threw cold water on the Pittsburgh party when Darren Helm beat Marc-Andre Fleury with a quick fire wrist shot before the end of the first and Brad Stuart blasted a rocket past the Penguins netminder early in the second to lead 2-1.

With the crowd growing jittery, Jordan Staal sparked the Pittsburgh rally with a momentum swinging shorthanded goal, fighting off Wings defenseman Brian Rafalski and shovelling the puck past Osgood.

"That was a huge momentum shift for us to get that," said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby.

"You don't expect those, you just want a (penalty) kill.

"That was a bonus for sure, that was huge."

Two minutes later, Crosby put the Penguins ahead for good, breaking in two-on-one with Malkin and beating Osgood with a one-timer from the side of the net for his first goal of the finals and 15th of the playoffs.

Tyler Kennedy added an insurance goal late in the second, completing a tic-tac-toe three-way passing play and that was all the offensive Pittsburgh would need with Fleury providing shutout goaltending the rest of the way.

Source:
Agencies
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