PITTSBURGH - The Detroit Red Wings have been through this before.
They jump to big leads against teams that seem grossly overmatched, then find ways to let them back in the playoffs.
The Nashville Predators caught up to Detroit in the first round, and the Dallas Stars put a scare into the Presidents' Trophy winners after falling into an 0-3 hole in the Western Conference finals. Only Colorado proved easy pickings, swept by the Red Wings in the second round.
Now, the Pittsburgh Penguins are a win from squaring the Stanley Cup finals through four games. Are the Red Wings vulnerable, or do they have the Eastern Conference champs right where they want them?
"We didn't come into the series thinking we were going to win four straight," goalie Chris Osgood said. "We were hoping to, but to say we expected it to be a hard series would be right on."
Detroit was again dominant at times during its 3-2 road loss to the Penguins on Wednesday and was coming on strong before running out of time. There is no need to panic. The Red Wings are playing well and still lead 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.
"It's not over after you're up 2-0 or 2-1," defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom said Thursday, the first of two straight off days. "You have to have that mentality that you have to stick with it for four wins. It's not going to be easy. They're a very good team over there, and we knew that, too, coming in."
If the Wings can figure out a way Saturday night to beat the Penguins in Pittsburgh - something no team has done in nine playoff games and 17 overall dating to Feb. 24 - the Red Wings will head home with a chance to win the Cup in front of their octopus-loving fans at Joe Louis Arena.
CANUCKS: Luc Bourdon, a promising rookie defenseman, was killed Thursday when his motorcycle struck a tractor-trailer in a crash near his hometown of Shippagan, New Brunswick. He was 21.
TV RATINGS: Pittsburgh's 3-2 win Wednesday earned a 2.8 national rating and an 18.2 rating in Detroit, beating out the 15.9 rating for the Pistons-Celtics game, which drew a 5.3 national rating.