Red Wings
4 - 3 Final - 3OT
  for this game

Sykora's tally gives Penguins life

Jun 3, 2008 - 6:55 AM
DETROIT (Ticker) -- Petr Sykora made good on his guarantee.

After assuring NBC rinkside commentator Pierre Maguire that he would score the winning goal after the second overtime session, Sykora delivered the winning tally 9:57 into triple overtime as the Pittsburgh Penguins staved off elimination with a 4-3 triumph over the Detroit Red Wings on Monday in Game Five of the Stanley Cup Finals.

All-Star Marian Hossa and Adam Hall netted first-period goals, and Maxime Talbot pushed the game into overtime by tallying with 34 seconds remaining in regulation for Pittsburgh.

Marc-Andre Fleury made 55 saves for the Penguins, including a number of spectacular stops in overtime. Fleury's total was the most in a Stanley Cup Final game since Olaf Kolzig of the Washington Capitals turned aside 55 shots in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Red Wings in Game One of 1998 series.

Defenseman Brian Rafalski had a goal and an assist and Pavel Datsyuk and rookie Darren Helm also tallied for the Presidents' Trophy-winning Red Wings, who still hold a three-games-to-two advantage in the best-of-seven series.

"This happened to me in 2000. We lost to Dallas at home in triple overtime, went back in their building and won it," said Rafalski, who was playing with the New Jersey Devils at the time. "It's not the end of the road. It's one game. There's two games left. We get our first chance on Wednesday."

Pittsburgh, which hosts Game Six on Wednesday, is looking to match the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, which is the only team to rally from a three-games-to-one deficit in the Finals to win the Stanley Cup.

Conversely, Detroit will look to capture its 11th Stanley Cup title in franchise history and fourth in the last 11 seasons. The Red Wings last hoisted the Stanley Cup in 2002 after downing the Carolina Hurricanes in five games.

"If we can come up with the win, it's going to be a lot of pressure on them," Sykora said. "But you just worry about the game on Wednesday, and hopefully we can get it."

After the teams twisted and turned through 2 1/2 periods of overtime hockey, Detroit's Jiri Hudler was whistled for a four-minute high-sticking penalty on Pittsburgh defenseman Rob Scuderi.

"I was just praying for blood," Scuderi said.

It didn't take the Penguins long to convert.

Stationed behind the net, All-Star Evgeni Malkin fed Sykora in the right faceoff circle. Sykora quickly unleashed a shot which beat Chris Osgood for his sixth goal of the postseason - and ended a marathon contest which spanned nearly 4 1/2 hours. It was the fifth-longest game in Stanley Cup finals history.

As for the guarantee ...

"And about the shot, just between the periods, something stupid I said: Just guys, I'm just going to get one. So just don't worry about the game. I'm going to get a goal," Sykora said.

"And luckily, I got a great pass from Gino (Malkin). I missed it one time before, probably by 20 feet. And it was kind of a lucky play. It hit the ref and went behind the net and Gino got it, made a beautiful pass. I tried to put it upstairs, and the puck went in."

Sykora's tally was the fourth overtime power-play goal in Stanley Cup Finals history - and the first in 28 years. Denis Potvin of the New York Islanders scored with the man advantage in Game One of the 1980 Finals against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Sidney Crosby could barely contain his excitement after Sykora's goal shifted the Finals back to Pennsylvania.

"Yeah, obviously we're happy for 'Sykie'," Crosby said. "He's been through a few playoff series over his career. I'm sure this is one of the biggest goals he's ever scored. We're happy to see it go in and happy for him. And he's a goal scorer, and he found the spot.

All-Star defenseman Sergei Gonchar, who had not played a shift since midway through the third period after he fell awkwardly in the second session, was credited with the second assist.

It nearly didn't come to this as Detroit was clinging to a 3-2 lead in the waning moments of the third period.

With the Joe Louis Arena faithful in a frenzy, Talbot silenced the crowd with 34 seconds remaining. Hossa's shot initially was stopped by Osgood, but Talbot successfully knocked the puck into the net on his second attempt to tie the contest at 3-3.

The tally was also historic, as the Penguins became the first team in more than 70 years and just the second team ever to escape elimination in the Stanley Cup Finals by scoring a game-tying goal in the final minute of the third period. The 1936 Toronto Maple Leafs accomplished the feat in Game Three of their best-of-five series with the Detroit Red Wings. The Leafs went on to win the game in overtime, but succumbed in the series to the Red Wings.

Although both teams were cleary exhausted at game's end, Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom did not use that as an excuse.

"You know what you're playing for. You're in the Finals. You can't start thinking that you're tired," Lidstrom said. "You just have to put that behind you, put that in the back of your mind and be ready for the next shift."

After being shut out in Games One and Two of the series, Pittsburgh finally found the back of the net at Joe Louis Arena when Hossa tallied at 8:37 of the first period for a 1-0 lead.

Pascal Dupuis checked Rafalski in the corner, collected the puck and quickly fed Crosby at the side of the net. The captain alertly found Hossa just inside the right faceoff circle, and the Slovak quickly settled the puck before wristing a shot which beat Osgood just inside the left post for his team-leading 11th tally of the postseason.

Hall doubled the Penguins' advantage after a sensational individual move - and an indirect assist by Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall.

With 5:19 remaining in the first period, Hall muscled past Johan Franzen and skated out of the corner before closing in on Osgood. The netminder made the initial save and, as Kronwall was poised to clear the puck behind the net, the Swede's attempt deflected off Hall's skate and into the net. Kronwall immediately bent his head back in bewilderment as the Penguins claimed a 2-0 advantage.

"I just went to try to clear it and it hit the guy's skate and went in the net," Kronwall said matter-of-factly.

Helm, who was unsuccessful on a breakaway with 2 1/2 minutes remaining in the first period, halved the deficit just 2:54 into the second period.

After Kirk Maltby prevented the puck from exiting the offensive zone, he fed Helm on the wing. The 21-year-old Manitoba native quickly wristed a puck on net which beat Fleury for his second goal of the postseason.

Detroit was poised to level the contest late in the second period, if not for a beautiful save for Fleury.

After a turnover at the blue line, Valtteri Filppula led a 2-on-1 advantage into the Pittsburgh zone. The Finn quickly fed Mikael Samuelsson, but the Swede's wrist shot was denied by a brilliant left skate save by Fleury.

Datsyuk leveled the contest - and recorded his first goal of the Finals - with a brilliant assist from Henrik Zetterberg just 6:43 into the third period. Stationed outside the right faceoff circle, Zetterberg fired the puck off the Russian's stick and between Fleury's legs to forge a tie.

Rafalski pushed the Red Wings ahead just over 2 1/2 minutes later, taking advantage of brilliant passing from fellow Swedes Franzen and Zetterberg to collapse the Penguins' defense. Rafalski cheated into the right faceoff circle and blasted a shot past Fleury for his third goal of the postseason.