Wings now know what Pens made of
PITTSBURGH — It turns out the Pittsburgh Penguins pulled off the greatest escape act in the Stanley Cup final in more than 70 years.
Only 35 seconds from elimination on enemy ice, the Penguins became only the second team in NHL history to score a game-tying goal in the final minute of regulation and win in overtime. The Toronto Maple Leafs were the first, accomplishing the feat in Game 3 of the 1936 final versus the Detroit Red Wings.
The present-day Wings, who lead the best-of-seven series with the Penguins 3-2, will try again to wrap up things on the road for the fourth straight round.
“We get to live another day, just another game [tonight],” said Pittsburgh winger Petr Sykora, whose goal at 9:57 of the third overtime ended the fifth longest game in Cup final history.
“I think if you come up with the win, it’s going to put a lot of pressure on them. But you just worry about [tonight] and hopefully get that win.”
The Wings were less than a minute away from winning their 11th Stanley Cup.
Now, they’re preparing for tonight’s Game 6 in Pittsburgh.
“You were that close and then, oh tough,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I think it’s natural to feel bad for us for a bit, and feel bad for yourself. But it’s the Stanley Cup playoffs.
“It’s not supposed to be easy. It’s supposed to be a battle and obviously we’re in one.”
Wings defenceman Niklas Kronwall said tonight’s game will be a test of intestinal fortitude.
“It’s all mental toughness,” Kronwall said. “What happened [Monday] is already history. We’ve got to look forward and stay positive. If we beat ourselves up too much, we’re not going to get forward.”
The Wings believe they fell short in two key areas. They were disappointed in a very poor first period, which put them in a 2-0 hole. They also felt they made life too easy for Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
Despite 58 shots on Fleury, Pittsburgh’s defence did a good job of providing clear sight lines and efficiently cleaned up any leftovers left in front.
“We have to have more traffic,” Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. “He didn’t give up any real bad rebounds either.
“He controlled the rebounds really well. He put them into the corners or grabbed the pucks. He had a solid game.”
Penguins coach Michel Therrien felt Fleury’s performance was a statement game.
“He was outstanding,” Therrien said. “No doubt, Fleury, probably the most important win in his career.”
For the second time in the past three games, the Wings fell behind 2-0.
“We need to have a better start,” Kronwall said. “We came out a little too nervous. We were standing around too much. We can’t have that happen.
“We can’t start playing the game when it’s 2-0.”