DETROIT (AP) — Jonathan Ericsson will have a pretty good tale to tell his grandkids someday.
Ericsson scored for the Detroit Red Wings in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals, helping them beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 to take a 2-0 lead Sunday night, and got the best of superstar Evgeni Malkin three times on the same shift.
Not bad for a defenseman who played just four days after having his appendix removed.
"I don't think there will be a big thing when I get grandkids. I think it'll be an everyday situation," said Ericsson, who said the surgery used to sideline athletes for at least a month. "In 20, 30, 40 years, maybe the surgery will develop to another level."
After Ericsson's goal made it 1-1 early in the second, he frustrated Malkin on a shift later in the period.
The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Swede stood up Malkin to thwart his rush, then used his big body to get the MVP finalist off the puck again.
"It was huge," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "He's a big man, who can play against anybody."
Malkin reacted by interfering with Ericsson, putting Detroit on the power play.
The Red Wings scored just after the penalty was killed, generating enough pressure that Valtteri Filppula's backhander gave them a 2-1 lead.
Ericsson is one of the young players performing for the defending Stanley Cup champions after being forced to develop in the minor leagues.
Detroit general manager Ken Holland likes his prospects "overripe" before they get a chance to play in the NHL.
The 25-year-old Ericsson was buried at Grand Rapids in the AHL until getting called up in March because defenseman Andreas Lilja had a concussion.
"If we didn't have him, we would be in big trouble," Babcock said.
Ericsson played 19 times in the regular season, scoring once and adding three assists.
In 17 playoff games, he has three goals — including on in his playoff debut in the first round against Columbus — and six points. Ericsson missed only one game after abdominal pain the morning of Game 5 in the Western Conference finals sent him to the hospital.
"I'm feeling better every day," he said.
Babcock said Ericsson's size, reach and passing skills will make him an elite player for a long time.
Plenty of teams had a shot at drafting him because he lasted until the 291st — and final — selection in the 2002 NHL draft.
"I was young and not strong at all," Ericsson said. "I guess Detroit saw something no one else did."
by the associated press