NHL Playoffs: Penguins 4, Red Wings 3
By Ira Podell
DETROIT ó Not so fast Motor City. The Detroit Red Wings’ road to the Stanley Cup has another stop to make.
Against all odds, the Pittsburgh Penguins stayed alive in the Stanley Cup finals with a 4-3 victory in Game 5 that ended on Petr Sykora’s goal 9:57 into the third overtime Monday night.
With Jiri Hudler serving a 4-minute penalty for high-sticking, Sykora wound up in the right circle and ripped a drive past Chris Osgood to end the marathon that lasted 41/2 hours.
The series heads back to Pittsburgh for Game 6 on Wednesday night.
“We have a great thing going right now. We just wanted to win this game tonight,” Sykora said. “We didn’t really look ahead. Now we’re going back home. We’ve got nothing to lose. We know what we have to do and hopefully we can bring it back here to Detroit.”
The Red Wings, who fell to 9-2 at home in the postseason, gave the Penguins their first loss in Pittsburgh on Saturday in Game 4 to set up their championship chances.
Early on, a Penguins’ win in this one seemed likely after they scored twice in the first period and carried a 2-1 lead into the third. However, the Red Wings tied it on Pavel Datsyuk’s power-play goal at 6:43 and went ahead for the first time 2:40 later when Brian Rafalski scored.
The party was on in the final minute. Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was on the bench, the Pittsburgh net was empty and the seconds ticked down toward Detroit’s fourth Stanley Cup championship in 11 seasons.
Maxime Talbot put the fans back into their seats when he saved the Penguins’ season with a second whack of the puck at the left post with 34.3 seconds left in regulation. Fleury kept them alive with a brilliant 55-save effort, including 24 in overtime.
Now, the treasured trophy will go back into its crate and head to Pennsylvania where the Red Wings will have another shot at their 11th title in franchise history.
Sykora’s goal ended the fifth-longest game in Stanley Cup finals history. The second assist went to defenseman Sergei Gonchar, who missed the first two overtime periods after crashing headfirst into the end boards in the second period. Gonchar took the ice to help Pittsburgh’s struggling power play.
“The game was so long. I wanted to help our guys,” Gonchar said. “I started feeling better at the end of the second overtime, so I thought there was a chance. Anyway I could help, I had to come back, so the goal was wait until the power play. They put me on the ice for the power play and we scored.”
That unit finally clicked on its fifth chance ó including two in overtime ó after converting only twice in 17 chances during the first four games.
Road teams have won 10 of the past 12 overtime games in the finals and are 15-4 since 1990.
Marian Hossa and Adam Hall put the Penguins in that position by scoring 6:04 apart in the first.
Darren Helm cut Detroit’s deficit in half in the second, and the raucous home crowd was primed to carry the Red Wings home in the third. Datsyuk struck for the tying goal 22 seconds after Tyler Kennedy went off for hooking, the Red Wings’ first power-play goal in four chances on the night.
By then, the chants of “We Want the Cup” filled the old rink. Penguins coach Michel Therrien called his timeout with 11:41 remaining, but it would have been helpful just 1:04 later when Rafalski put the Penguins on the brink of elimination.
Johan Franzen sent a pass out front to Rafalski, who skated in from the right point and ripped a drive through a crowd in the crease and into the net. It was Rafalski’s third goal of the playoffs.