Petr Sykora of the Pittsburgh Penguins scored a power-play goal at 9:57 of the third overtime period to shock the Detroit Red Wings and their fans in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final on Monday night.
Sykora fired a wrist shot past Detroit goaltender Chris Osgood with Jiri Hudler in the penalty box for high-sticking in a 4-3 win as the Penguins battled back from the brink of defeat. Evgeni Malkin, who has struggled mightily all series, set up Sykora for his first point of the final.
Sykora may have been just getting warmed up. In 2003 he scored in the fifth overtime to give Anaheim, under current Red Wings coach Mike Babcock, a playoff win.
"I don't think I had a scoring chance until the goal I scored [then] and it was kind of similar tonight," said Sykora. "The puck was going away from me [and] I didn't really get a shot on net until like second overtime.
"When I saw him [Malkin] behind the net I knew he was coming for my stick and I shot where I wanted to."
It was the fifth-longest game ever in a Stanley Cup final and remarkable in many ways, not the least the fact the Penguins hadn't managed a single goal in the two previous games at Joe Louis Arena.
Marian Hossa, Adam Hall and Maxime Talbot also scored for the Penguins, while Marc-Andre Fleury was outstanding in net with 55 saves. Sidney Crosby had two assists and leads all NHL players with 20 assists and 26 points in the playoffs.
Detroit fans were counting down towards the franchise's 11th Stanley Cup late in the third when Talbot stunned the home crowd by tying the game for the Penguins with just 35 seconds left.
Darren Helm, Pavel Datsyuk and Brian Rafalski scored for the Red Wings as they erased a 2-0 deficit, with Datsyuk and Rafalski notching goals within a 2:40 span midway through the third as the Red Wings seized the lead.
Detroit outshot Pittsburgh 24-14 in overtime, but it was the Penguins who finally struck. Osgood finished with 28 saves.
"We were trying to hold on, obviously they got a lot of momentum in the third and carried it through to overtime," said Crosby. "The big answer for us was Marc-Andre Fleury. He was the difference, he held us in there and allowed us to keep battling and holding on."
The scene will shift to Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh for Game 6 on Wednesday (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 8 p.m. ET).
The Red Wings will try to regroup after outshooting the Penguins by close to a 2-to-1 margin.
"I think it's natural to feel bad for a bit and feel bad for yourself but it's the Stanley Cup playoffs, it's not supposed to be easy," said Babcock. "It's supposed to be a battle and we're in one."
Shaky Wings to start
The Penguins are trying to become the first team since the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the Stanley Cup final.
Pittsburgh held a 2-0 lead after the first period.
Hossa quickly grabbed a puck that went off Crosby's skate and fired a shot from the slot past Osgood at 8:37 for his 11th goal of the playoffs. The Pittsburgh captain had started the play with a pass to defenceman Sergei Gonchar.
Fleury showed a glimpse of what was to come with a left pad save on Valtteri Filppula's backhander. Filppula grabbed the rebound but missed the net on his second attempt.
Henrik Zetterberg hit the side of net as Detroit started to threaten, but it was the Penguins who caught a break.
Red Wings defenceman Niklas Kronwall attempted to clear the puck into the corner but it went off Hall's skate and past Osgood.
"We started slow, I thought we were really nervous," said Babcock. "We never made a play in the first, for whatever reason."
The Penguins had chances to take a 3-0 lead early in the second. Jordan Staal's slapshot was trapped by Osgood, while Crosby couldn't fully shake Rafalski, missing the net with his attempt.
The inability to finish proved a factor as what could have been a three-goal bulge was soon halved. Seconds after a Detroit shot hit the crossbar, Helm's shot went off Rob Scuderi's skate and through Fleury's pads at 2:54 of the second.
Fleury kept it 2-1 with a sparkling right pad save on Mikael Samuelsson, who leads all players with three goals in the final.
The action was intense in the second period. Detroit's Dallas Drake and Gonchar of the Penguins each crashed hard into the boards, while Pittsburgh's Ryan Malone took a puck to the face. All three returned, but Gonchar would depart midway through the third and didn't return until the game's final shift.
"You see guys like Ryan Malone receive a shot in the face and come back, it's pretty amazing the price and sacrifice a lot of those guys have to pay," said Penguins coach Michel Therrien.
3rd all Red until end
Detroit came out with jump in the third and several Red Wings thought they had scored at the 2:16 mark. Datsyuk had stripped Ryan Whitney of the puck and deked Fleury, but his shot went off the crossbar and not in the net, despite one official signalling a goal.
Hossa followed up on Hal Gill's blocked shot by taking the puck up ice soon after, hitting the post for the Penguins.
Tyler Kennedy of the Penguins took a critical hooking penalty and Datsyuk re-directed Zetterberg's shot for his 10th of the playoffs and first of the final at 6:43.
The Red Wings soon began buzzing again and after Fleury made saves on Filppula and Hudler, Therrien called a timeout to calm his rattled club.
It didn't work.
Johan Franzen outworked the Penguins defence behind the net and found Rafalski skating in from the point. Rafalski snapped it home for his third of the playoffs, and the crowd went wild.
The Penguins had few chances over the next eight minutes and appeared headed for a defeat in regulation, and the end of their season. But with Fleury on the Pittsburgh bench for an extra attacker, Franzen's clearing attempt was corralled by the Penguins and Talbot at the right post put his second whack past Osgood to tie the game with 35 seconds left.
"We had it twice, one at the red line and one at the half wall and we didn't get it deep and we never got it out and in the end they scored and then we never scored on our chances in overtime," said Babcock.
Detroit made another bid in the final seconds, firing three shots towards the Pittsburgh net, one saved by Fleury and the others partially blocked.
In overtime, Fleury kept his team alive with big saves on Daniel Cleary, Filppula and Tomas Holmstrom.
Osgood had to wait several minutes before his first save and bobbled a Malkin shot before catching it.
The teams traded strong chances until late in overtime when Zetterberg drove to the net, bumping into Fleury and earning a debatable goaltender interference call.
Pittsburgh could not capitalize and early in double overtime Cleary drove down the right wing and towards the net, earning an even more debatable goalie interference call after contact with Fleury.
Osgood was tested on the subsequent power play, making stops on Whitney and Malkin.
Malkin then turned the puck over in the neutral zone and Zetterberg drove down and hit the crossbar, with Pittsburgh's Jarkko Ruutu hitting the post at the other end just over one minute later.
Fleury was sharp again later, nabbing Cleary's rebound attempt at nearly exactly the midpoint of the frame. Cleary has a chance to become the first player from Newfoundland to play with a Cup winner.
Gonchar makes return
The pace slowed considerably in double overtime until Sykora was sent off for hooking with 2:16 left. Detroit failed to register a shot despite enjoying puck possession for much of the power play.
Meanwhile, even the player many consider the best in the league was feeling the strain of the marathon game.
"My legs didn't feel very good, to be honest with you," said Crosby. "When you get to that point I think you just worry about small steps, you worry about getting through your zone and then getting through the neutral zone."
"It's a trek. It doesn't feel like 200 feet to get all the way down it feels more like a football field."
Sykora would make up for his penalty with his sixth goal, the winner. Hudler was in the box for clipping Scuderi near the chin with his stick.
Gonchar, who had hurt his back in the second, returned to the ice for the power play and helped the Penguins keep the puck in Detroit's end before the goal was scored 36 seconds into the penalty.
"During the first two overtimes I was getting treatment and started to feel better and better," said Gonchar. "So I decided to give it a try. It worked out well."
The Penguins will now try and force a seventh and deciding game.
The last time a team won the first two games of the final at home, as Detroit did, and lost the series was in 1971 when the Chicago Blackhawks were beaten by the Montreal Canadiens.
Pittsburgh's Kris Letang made it back to Detroit and took part in the pre-game skate after attending a funeral in Shippagan, N.B., for his friend and former junior teammate Luc Bourdon, who died in a motorcycle crash last week. Letang was a healthy scratch.