Wings to the top: Detroit carries off the Stanley Cup
PITTSBURGH - Hockeytown is home to the Stanley Cup - again. Using a little Motown magic on the road, the Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup for the fourth time in 11 seasons last night with a 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6 of the Finals.
PITTSBURGH - Hockeytown is home to the Stanley Cup - again.
Using a little Motown magic on the road, the Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup for the fourth time in 11 seasons last night with a 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6 of the Finals.
The celebration came two nights later than expected. The Penguins forced the series back to Pennsylvania by tying Game 5 with 34.3 seconds left in regulation and winning it in Detroit on Petr Sykora's power-play goal in triple overtime.
Undeterred, the Red Wings hit the road and won it all. Detroit is third in NHL history with 11 Stanley Cup titles, trailing Montreal (23) and Toronto (13).
Just like in Game 5, things got a little dicey for the Red Wings, who allowed Marian Hossa's power-play goal with 1 minute, 27 seconds left. Pittsburgh had already pulled Game 5 hero Marc-Andre Fleury to create a 6-on-4 skating edge.
With the final seconds ticking down, Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby put a backhander on goal that Hossa just missed with a tip at the right post.
"When they scored the second one, we knew it was going to be tight to the end," Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg said. "They had a chance, but when I saw the puck behind the net and 0:00 on the clock, I was a pretty happy man."
It was the best night for Swedish hockey since the national squad won the gold medal at the 2006 Olympics. Defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom became the first European captain of a Stanley Cup champion. "Nick Lidstrom, come get the Stanley Cup," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. "It's yours to take back to Hockeytown."
Zetterberg, meanwhile, won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. He had a goal and assist in the Cup clincher, scoring on a shot that trickled through Fleury's pads and went in. That goal, at 7:36 into the third period, extended the Red Wings' lead to 3-1.
Zetterberg tied teammate and countryman Johan Franzen for the playoff lead with 13 goals, and matched Crosby for the postseason scoring crown with 27 points.
"It's huge to have your best defensive player be your best guy offensively, too," Franzen said of Zetterberg. "He's such a smart player and is always in the right spot."
Lidstrom, who succeeded Steve Yzerman as the team's captain, is one of five players to be with the Red Wings for their four most recent titles, along with Kirk Maltby, Kris Draper, Tomas Holmstrom, and Darren McCarty. Their first Cup came in a 1997 sweep over the Flyers, followed by a sweep in 1998 against the Capitals. In 2002, they beat the Hurricanes in five games.
Brian Rafalski gave Detroit a 1-0 lead in the first period, and Valtteri Filppula doubled it in the second. Chris Osgood made 20 saves and improved to 14-4 in the playoffs after taking over for No. 1 goalie Dominik Hasek in the first round of the playoffs. Osgood allowed only 30 goals in 19 games.
Detroit earned its final two victories of the championship series in Pittsburgh, where the Penguins won their first nine postseason games, including three against the Flyers in the conference final. Until the Red Wings came to town, the Penguins hadn't lost at home since February.
Fleury, brilliant in making 55 saves Monday in Pittsburgh's 4-3 win in triple overtime, couldn't repeat that performance. Filppula's rebound goal 8:07 into the second period off a shot by Mikael Samuelsson was certainly one he'd like to have back.
The "white-out" clad crowd tried to muster up a "Let's Go Pens!" chant after that score, but the stifling Red Wings defense took every bit as much out of the fans as it did the Penguins' potent offense.
Coach Michel Therrien double-shifted Crosby, Hossa and Evgeni Malkin on an all-star line in the third period to try to generate some offense. Malkin scored Pittsburgh's first goal.
"I'm almost speechless. It's tough. We were that close," Therrien said. "This is a group that gave all they got. They deserve a lot of respect. We got beat by a quality team."
Motown's Cup Champions
Detroit's 10 previous Stanley Cup winners:
2002: Coach Scotty Bowman's Red Wings beat the Carolina Hurricanes, coached by Paul Maurice.
1998: Bowman's Red Wings beat the Washington Capitals (Ron Wilson).
1997: Bowman's Red Wings beat the Flyers (Terry Murray).
1955: Jimmy Skinner's Red Wings beat the Montreal Canadiens (Dick Irvin).
1954: Tommy Ivan's Red Wings beat the Canadiens (Irvin).
1952: Ivan's Red Wings beat the Canadiens (Irvin).
1950: Ivan's Red Wings beat the New York Rangers (Lynn Patrick).
1943: Jack Adams' Red Wings beat the Boston Bruins (Art Ross).
1937: Adams' Red Wings beat the Rangers (Lester Patrick).
1936: Adams' Red Wings beat the Toronto Maple Leafs (Irvin).