PITTSBURGH - In the Malone family, postseason accomplishments are measured by goals, assists and broken noses.
For Pittsburgh Penguins forward Ryan Malone, that must mean it's four broken noses down, 10 to go.
Malone's father, Greg Malone, a former Penguins player and scouting director, broke his nose 14 times during his hockey career. His son has done so four times, twice in these Stanley Cup finals against Detroit.
Malone was cleared to play in Game 6 last night after X-rays detected no damage other than the broken nose caused when he was struck by teammate Hal Gill's slap shot in Game 5. Malone went to his knees, blood pouring from his nose, yet returned the following period.
Malone has two long bands of stitches on the left side of his face near his nose, a chipped tooth and untold hidden physical damage, but he said it simply goes with being in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
"Actually it's not too bad, it could be a lot worse," Malone said yesterday. "A broken nose, a swollen lip, and some chipped teeth are a pretty good scenario for a puck in the face, I thought."
Malone will be a free agent after the season ends, but he's not thinking yet that his every game with the Penguins team he grew up watching from the time he was a toddler could be his last.
"I'm not worried about myself right now," Malone said. "I'm worried about the team."
Count Red Wings coach Mike Babcock among those who think it is much more difficult to win the Stanley Cup than it is the Super Bowl.
In the NFL, teams play a maximum of four games in a month's span to win the Lombardi Trophy. In the NHL, it takes four victories merely to win one of four rounds. One game, such as Monday's Penguins-Red Wings three-overtime Game 5, can be nearly the equivalent of two.
"You play in the Super Bowl, you get 2 weeks to prepare. You play the one game," Babcock said. "In our sport, when your legs are falling off, you just keeping playing, it doesn't matter. You keep eating and drinking [water and sports drinks] and playing.
"There's a pride that, I think, comes with it that you just keep doing it. The more you hurt, the harder you play. It doesn't matter, just keep playing. No one cares how many minutes you played or how much fluid you lost, we just got to play and play well."
Goals from anyone
As is proved repeatedly during the lengthy NHL playoffs, goals can come from anywhere and everywhere. And from anybody.
Fourth-line right wing Adam Hall had only two goals in 46 regular season games for Pittsburgh, but has three in the playoffs - two in the finals. He scored the decisive goal as the Penguins won 3-2 in Game 3 and scored during their 4-3, three-overtime win in Game 5.
"Sometimes, it's being in the right place," Hall said. "You have to make sure every single line's going. One bouncing puck, one rebound that somebody gets to can make a difference. So we have to make sure, whether it's the top line or the fourth line, we keep it going."
Similarly, center Darren Helm, 21, played in only seven regular-season games for Detroit, but also scored in Game 5 and has two playoff goals. He also was credited with six hits on Monday.
"He's a great kid. He's taking all of this in," teammate Kris Draper said. "He's playing a huge role for our team. ... The Detroit Red Wings are going to see a lot of Darren Helm over the years with the way he can skate and the calmness that he has with the puck."
No octopus fan
What has eight tentacles and annoys Penguins?
Count Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury among those who aren't enamored with the tradition of throwing octopi on the ice in Detroit, even if he sees the humor in it.
Joe Louis Arena employee Al Sobotka makes a big show of retrieving the octopus that is traditionally thrown on the ice before home games, twirling it around his head.
Watching this show from a few feet away, Fleury playfully squirted Sobotka with his water bottle before Game 5.
Unintentionally, of course. Wink, wink.
"It was an accident. I just missed my mouth by a little," Fleury said. "He does it to us (by swinging the octopus). And after the first two games, I thought I'll give him a little something back."
A computerized photo circulating in the Penguins' dressing room yesterday showed Petr Sykora, standing in the batter's box like Babe Ruth, and predicting a home run.
Sykora told teammates during one of the overtime intermissions Monday that he would score the winning goal, then did exactly that in the third period. It was the third multiple-overtime game-winning goal of Sykora's playoff career.
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock made a joking reference Tuesday to how Penguins coach Michel Therrien has publicly lobbied the entire series for more obstruction penalties.
Babcock made the comment before criticizing the officials for calling two goalie interference penalties on his team during Game 5.
Therrien was asked yesterday if working the officials via the media is part of coaching gamesmanship.
"This morning I'm trying to walk around, introduce myself," Therrien said. "I'm the other guy I guess. The complaining? There's two different things. Mike's complaining about calls, And we've complained about the non-calls. So that's two different things.
"And we've been told at the beginning of the series that they're going to protect the goalie. Obviously, you know, he didn't have any complaint when (Chris) Osgood got bumped and he fell down on Ryan Malone (and drew a goalie interference penalty in Game 2). Didn't hear any complaint."
The game-winning goals in the two longest Stanley Cup playoff victories in Penguins history were each scored by a player named Petr.
Petr Nedved scored the fourth overtime game-winner against Washington in 1996, and Sykora scored in the third overtime to beat Detroit on Monday. *