Pitts­burg ‘steels’ Stan­ley

Pen­guins rob Cleary, Wings of sec­ond straight cup

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY BREN­DAN MCCARTHY

Af­ter a year to­gether, Dan and Stan are break­ing up. The Pittsburgh Pen­guins over­came his­tory and an in­jury to cap­tain Sid­ney Crosby Fri­day night, June 12 to de­feat Dan Cleary and the de­fend­ing Na­tional Hockey League cham­pion Detroit Red Wings 2-1 and take the best-of-seven Stan­ley Cup fi­nal 43.

Back in Har­bour Grace, at the S.W. Moores Memo­rial Sta­dium, where they had wit­nessed his­tory a year ear­lier, a smaller crowd of about 60 lo­cal die-hard Cleary/Wings fans watched the drama un­fold on a big screen TV. The mo­ment they had been wait­ing for to bring them to their feet and give them some­thing to cheer about came with only six min­utes left in the third pe­riod, when de­fence­man Jonathan Ericc­son fi­nally put the Wings on the score­board and within one goal of ty­ing the game.

But de­spite their ob­vi­ous dis­ap­point­ment, lo­cal fans demon­strated good sports­man­ship, ap­plaud­ing the Pitts­burg Pen­guins and con­grat­u­lat­ing their cap­tain Sid­ney Crosby, on their well-earned victory over their favourite team.

Max Tal­bot scored both goals for the Pen­guins, who be­came the first NHL, NBA or Ma­jor League Base­ball team in 30 years to win a cham­pi­onship Game 7 on the road. The last hap­pened to be an­other bunch from Pittsburgh, the 1979 World Se­ries-winning, ‘We Are Fam­ily’ Pi­rates.

Tal­bot, who last week had been light­heart­edly chided by line­mate Ev­geni Malkin for not hav­ing much of a scor­ing touch, got his sev­enth and eighth goals of the play­offs early and mid­way through the mid­dle pe­riod. The sec­ond tally came just af­ter what looked to be a turn­ing point in favour of the Wings when Crosby limped off the ice af­ter ap­pear­ing to have in­jured his left leg on a hit by Jo­han Franzen. There was no penalty on the play.

Crosby re­turned to the Pen­guins’ bench to start the third pe­riod and played a sin­gle, brief shift half­way through the frame af­ter lob­by­ing head coach Dan Bylsma. But from then on, he was forced to watch as Detroit de­fence­man Jonathan Eric­s­son scored with six min­utes left in the third pe­riod. Wings” Nik­las Kron­wall rang a shot off the cross­bar with 120 sec­onds re­main­ing. The Wings, in­clud­ing Cleary, pressed for a ty­ing goal, with net­min­der Chris Os­good out for an ex­tra at­tacker as time ran out for the de­fend­ing cup hold­ers.

It took a mirac­u­lous save by Marc-An­dre Fleury - lit­er­ally in the last sec­ond - on the Wings’ Nick Lid­strom, but Pittsburgh hung on, al­low­ing Crosby to do his post-game duty and be­come the youngest-ever cap­tain to hoist the Stan­ley Cup, af­ter ac­cept­ing it from NHL com­mis­sioner Gary Bettman as the mostly-de­spon­dent crowd at Joe Louis Arena looked on.

The sit­u­a­tion was com­pletely op­po­site from last spring, when the Wings took the Stan­ley Cup by winning Game 6 in Pitts---

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