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STANLEY CUP FINALS

Red Wings set pace in 4-0 Game 1 victory

May 25, 2008|Helene Elliott | Times Staff Writer

DETROIT -- Mikael Samuelsson was scoreless in the Western Conference finals, but Red Wings Coach Mike Babcock saw something he liked.

"He got an assist his last game," Babcock said of the Swedish winger. "Sammy's kind of a streak guy. When he scores he feels good about himself."

He felt so good about the first goal he scored against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the opening game of the Stanley Cup finals that he scored another, setting the tone for a thorough 4-0 victory Saturday at a crammed and jumping Joe Louis Arena.

"I think we played good as a team tonight," Samuelsson said. "I'm lucky to be the one who scored a couple of goals."

After spending too much of the first period in the penalty box, the Red Wings smartened up and began to take over. Samuelsson capitalized on a Pittsburgh turnover with a marvelous effort that fooled goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury at 13:01 of the second period, and he pulled off more sleight of hand with an 18-foot snap shot after a Fleury giveaway at 2:16 of the third.

A short-handed goal by Dan Cleary at 17:18 and a power-play goal by Henrik Zetterberg with 13 seconds to play affirmed the Red Wings' superiority.

"They're a good skating club with really talented forwards," Cleary said. "They came out really fast early and we weren't skating and that's why we were in the penalty box early. In the second period, we just started skating."

That forced the Penguins into costly mistakes. "We had too many turnovers," winger Marian Hossa said. "And we . . . have to learn from it and be better."

Sidney Crosby, bumped and checked at every turn, learned something in his finals debut.

"You really have to execute, that's the main thing," he said. "Tight games like this, they had a few chances and they go in. That's the difference between executing and not executing."

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helene.elliott@latimes.com

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