Detroit Red Wings win Stanley Cup
The Detroit Red Wings held off a last-gasp rally by the Pittsburgh Penguins late in the third period of Game 6 to capture the franchise's 11th Stanley Cup on Wednesday night.
Henrik Zetterberg's 13th goal of the playoffs early in the third period held up as the winner in the 3-2 game at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh.
Zetterberg's goal put the Wings up by two goals, but Sergei Gonchar scored a power-play goal for Pittsburgh with 1:27 left and Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and teammate Marian Hossa each nearly tied the game just before the final buzzer.
Zetterberg won the Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player in the playoffs. He tied for the lead in both goals and points, with 27.
"It's been unbelievable," Zetterberg told Hockey Night in Canada. "It was tough losing that last game but we battled through that and came back today and played an unbelievable game."
Brian Rafalski scored in the first and Valtteri Filppula had a goal in the second to put Detroit up 2-0. Evgeni Malkin scored late in the second for Pittsburgh, but the Penguins mustered just one shot on net over the first 17 minutes of the third.
Detroit has won the Stanley Cup in four of the last 11 seasons of play. With the result, Nicklas Lidstrom becomes the first European captain of a Stanley Cup champion.
"We got great players and we played hard all year," said Detroit coach Mike Babcock. "For over three years we've had a pretty good hockey club and with the leadership of Lidstrom … it's a pretty special group."
Defenceman Niklas Kronwall was again outstanding for Detroit, finishing with two assists. Kronwall finished the playoffs with 15 assists, second only to Crosby, who had 21.
Goaltender Chris Osgood, one of 11 Red Wings to win the Cup for at least a second time, made 20 saves. He started the playoffs on the bench, replacing Dominik Hasek in net in the fourth game of the team's first-round series.
"It was difficult again. Pittsburgh has a great young team and gave us all we could handle," said Osgood. "It was probably the most difficult series I've played in a while.
"They got a talented team; we held on right until the end again. They kept pushing us."
It was Pittsburgh's second defeat at home in a span of four days after having not lost at Mellon Arena since late February.
It was a disappointing end to a tremendous season for the Penguins, who made the final just two seasons after finishing with a lowly 58 points. The turnaround was led by youngsters Crosby, Malkin, Marc-Andre Fleury and Jordan Staal.
"We're going in the right direction with those young kids," said Penguins coach Michel Therrien. "The future is bright with those young kids. This is definitely a team that is really fun to coach. They paid a price to try to get better. I'm really proud of my players."
Detroit outshot Pittsburgh 30-22 in the game.
Petr Sykora, who scored the winning goal in triple overtime in Game 5, had a chance to be the first goal scorer on Wednesday but his shot in the slot was set aside by Osgood.
With Darryl Sydor in the penalty box for interference, Detroit struck for their fourth power-play goal of the playoffs.
Rafalski's wrist shot from the point went off Pittsburgh defenceman Hal Gill's skate and into the net. Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk drew assists, with Tomas Holmstrom screening Penguins goalie Fleury.
For the second time in three games, Pittsburgh couldn't capitalize on a 5-on-3 advantage later in the period.
The home side had the two-man advantage for 1:33 but Osgood muzzled a pair of Malkin slapshots.
Osgood also knocked down Gonchar's slapshot early in the second on a power play. Seconds later, Detroit defenceman Brad Stuart nailed Crosby with a clean hit and the Penguins captain went to the bench in some pain, though he returned a few minutes later.
Pittsburgh was having trouble gaining traction in Detroit's zone and Red Wings defenceman Kronwall sprung Mikael Samuelsson to set in motion the second goal of the game.
Samuelsson's shot from the right wing led to a big rebound, and Filpulla's backhander trickled between Fleury's pads at the 8:07 mark.
Pens stage late second rally
Sensing the game slipping away, the Penguins put on intense pressure.
Ryan Whitney skated in from the point and fired a shot that Osgood deflected wide, while the Detroit goalie got his stick down to prevent a Gary Roberts shot in close from crossing the goal-line.
With Datsyuk in the penalty box for interference, Pittsburgh finally broke through with 4:34 left in the second period.
The Penguins moved the puck around the perimeter smartly and Malkin blasted a slapshot between Osgood's pads. The Russian sophomore, who struggled much of the series, scored for the first time in six games.
The Red Wings almost regained their two-goal cushion on a power play late in the period, but Fleury stood firm at the right post as the Wings tried to jam the puck into the net.
Pittsburgh was outplayed by the Red Wings right from the opening face off in the third and a comeback looked unlikely after the first half of the period.
"They really stuck to their game plan, we got a little out of sorts and didn't stick to our game plan as much as we should have, but you've got to give them a lot of credit," said Roberts. "They're a heckuva hockey club, they played us hard."
Zetterberg's shot for the third goal went off Gonchar's skate and between Fleury's pads. The puck lay in the crease while the players milled in front of Fleury, with the goaltender falling back and inadvertently knocking the puck in at the 7:36 mark.
With the goal, Zetterberg tied teammate Johan Franzen for the playoff goal lead.
Zetterberg nearly added a second goal moments later on a 2-on-1, and Fleury was forced to come up with saves on Kris Draper and Daniel Cleary, who will become the first player from Newfoundland to get his name engraved on the Stanley Cup.
Malkin's wrist shot with just under two minutes left was Osgood's only serious challenge of the period, but a Detroit penalty was called on the play.
Pittsburgh pulled Fleury for a two-man advantage and Gonchar struck with a slapper with 87 seconds left.
The Penguins caught a break as it appeared that Ryan Malone knocked the stick out of the hands of Red Wings defender Andreas Lilja.
Pittsburgh got the puck into Detroit's zone with less than eight seconds left.
Hossa fired a backhander that troubled Osgood, with Crosby's rebound attempt near the right post too late and through the crease.
Drake gets elusive Cup
Fleury didn't have his strongest game on Wednesday but was the man on the spot much of the series, as Detroit outshot Pittsburgh 222-142.
Detroit went 4-for-30 on the power play, while Pittsburgh connected on five of 27 opportunities.
Of the players winning the Cup for the first time, Dallas Drake waited the longest. Drake entered the NHL in 1992-93 with Detroit, returning to the club this year.
Babcock won his first Stanley Cup in his second attempt. Babcock is expected to sign a contract extension in the coming days.
Chris Chelios, the oldest player in the league at 46, was in a buoyant mood despite not seeing ice time during the final.
"It's the greatest feeling in the world," Chelios said. "I'm glad I hung around to see this and be in this again."
Mark Hartigan, meanwhile, will get his name on the Cup for a second consecutive year. Hartigan played a total of five post-season games with Anaheim and Detroit.
It was the first time the Stanley Cup was readied for presentation in Pittsburgh. The Penguins won two Stanley Cups in the early 1990s, both on the road.
Penguins forward Roberts, 42, was trying to set a unique record for longest stretch between championships. He was part of Calgary's 1989 Stanley Cup team.
Roberts told Hockey Night in Canada he has enjoyed playing in Pittsburgh so much, he is not ready to contemplate retirement.
With files from the Canadian Press