DETROIT - Slide over, Super Mario, and make room on the Stanley Cup for a new batch of Pittsburgh Penguins.
Max Talbot scored two second-period goals, and the Penguins overcame the loss of captain Sidney Crosby and a whole lot of history to beat the defending champion Detroit Red Wings, 2-1, last night in Game 7 and win the Stanley Cup for the third time.
Instead of the Red Wings becoming the NHL's first repeat champion since they won consecutive titles in 1997 and 1998, this turned into a Penguins party for the first time since now-team owner Mario Lemieux captained them to championships in 1991 and '92.
Marc-Andre Fleury was stellar in making 23 saves - none bigger than the one he made with one second left as he dived across the crease and knocked away a shot by Niklas Lidstrom.
"I knew there wasn't much time left," Fleury said. "The rebound was wide. I just decided to get my body out there, and it hit me in the ribs so it was good."
Fleury's last save started a wild scene in the crease that culminated in the awarding of the Cup. Crosby took it from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and skated a half lap to center ice before handing it off to Bill Guerin, who joined the team at the trade deadline and became a champion for the first time since 1995 with New Jersey.
Lemieux, the No. 1 pick in the 1984 draft by Pittsburgh, celebrated on the ice with Crosby - the phenom who has been living in the owner's house since joining the team.
Evgeni Malkin, who led the playoffs with 36 points, earned the Conn Smythe Trophy as the postseason MVP.
"It's unbelievable. It's the stuff you dream of as a kid. It's reality now," Crosby said. "We worked so hard. It's amazing to see how far we've come, and couldn't feel any better."
Crosby crumpled against the boards after he was hit by Johan Franzen and seemed to get his left leg caught. He glided to the bench hunched over and stayed bent at the waist as he was guided to the dressing room 51/2 minutes into the period.
He was limited to two shifts, but his teammates doubled the lead while he was gone. Crosby made it back to the ice midway through the third period for one shift.
"I just wanted them to keep doing what they were doing," Crosby said of what he told his teammates before the third period.
Pittsburgh 0 2 0 – 2
Detroit 0 0 1 – 1
First period: None. Penalties: Stuart, Det (slashing), 11:24.
Second period: 1, Pittsburgh, Talbot 7 (Malkin), 1:13. 2, Pittsburgh, Talbot 8 (Kunitz, Scuderi), 10:07. Penalties: Staal, Pit (hooking), 1:59; Holmstrom, Det (holding), 1:59; Gill, Pit (holding), 6:16.
Third period: 3, Detroit, Ericsson 4 (Lidstrom, Hudler), 13:53. Penalties: Eaton, Pit (tripping), 2:36.
Shots on Goal: Pittsburgh 10-7-1–18. Detroit 6-11-7–24.
Power-play opportunities: Pittsburgh 0 of 1; Detroit 0 of 2.
Goalies: Pittsburgh, Fleury 16-8-0 (24 shots-23 saves). Detroit, Osgood 15-8-0 (18-16).
Referees: Bill McCreary, Paul Devorski. Linesmen: Jean Morin, Pierre Racicot.
Attendance: 20,066 (20,066). Time: 2:23.
Penguins 2 Red Wings 1
Penguins win series, 4-3.