Sergei Gonchar said it once, then repeated it again a few seconds later as he tried pumping some confidence into some discouraged teammates: It's not over.
Thanks to Gonchar's power-play goal midway through the third period that revived the Penguins after the Detroit Red Wings pressed for the go-ahead score, the Stanley Cup finals are far from over for Pittsburgh following a 4-2 victory in Game 3 last night.
Game 4, which could have been an elimination game for Pittsburgh, will be back at Mellon Arena tomorrow night with the Penguins trying to square the series at 2-2.
"This series is where it should be,'' said Detroit coach Mike Babcock.
Gonchar's slap shot off Evgeni Malkin's pass sailed past Chris Osgood as Bill Guerin and Sidney Crosby screened the goalie.
"The power play was an unbelievable job by a handful of guys out there, keeping the play alive and giving 'Gonch' a chance," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.
Malkin assisted on the first three Penguins goals, giving him 33 points in 20 playoff games, the most in the playoffs since Joe Sakic's 34 for Stanley Cup champion Colorado in 1996.
Gonchar, and first-period scores by Max Talbot and Kris Letang, gave the Penguins hope again, just as they did by winning Game 3 by 3-2 on a pair of Crosby goals in last year's finals; the Red Wings went on to win in six games.
Talbot added an empty-net score in the game's final minute.
The way they played for much of the game, it looked like Detroit was trying to win the series in three.
They outshot the Penguins, 26-11, following a furious first two periods that featured 5-minute stretches of continuous up-and-down play and numerous scoring chances at both ends. The way the Red Wings kept pressuring, the towel-waving Penguins fans were fearful that they might see their team's season effectively end.
"We talked after the second, we didn't have a very good second period. We needed to calm down and get back to our game," Bylsma said.
Gonchar was one of the few Penguins players at the rink on a day off Monday, and he constantly repeated that the Penguins did enough right during their twin 3-1 losses in Detroit to encourage them. Guerin also downplayed the fact that 31 of the previous 32 teams to win the first two games at home went on to win the final series, saying that meant nothing in these finals.
In the series' first wide-open period, the Penguins finally began getting production from their secondary scorers as fourth-line center Talbot and defenseman Letang scored, but Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen also scored for a 2-2 tie after the first period.
The Penguins were hoping to open up the play more at home in front of a sellout crowd decked out in white shirts. But in creating more end-to-end play, Pittsburgh also made mistakes that led to the Detroit goals. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury made up for many of those mistakes, however, stopping 27 shots.
"It's great to be back in this series,'' Fleury said.
Zetterberg played another strong game, helping limit Crosby's chances despite not being matched as regularly against him as in the first two games in Detroit since Pittsburgh had the final line change this time.
* Buffalo center Marek Zagrapan will play in Russia. The 2005 first-round draft pick has signed a 3-year deal to play for Severstal Cherepovets of Russia's Kontinental Hockey League. *