PITTSBURGH (Reuters) - The Detroit Red Wings clinched the Stanley Cup with a nail-biting 3-2 Game Six win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday.
The Red Wings, who were just 35 seconds from securing the Cup in Game Five on Monday, shrugged off the disappointment of the home defeat and hung on to claim the best-of-seven series 4-2 and lift their fourth Cup in 11 years.
It marked the fourth consecutive series the Red Wings had won on the road as they finished off the gritty Penguins, who sought to become the first team since the Toronto Maple Leafs 66 years ago to climb back from a 3-1 series deficit and win the Cup.
As the final buzzer sounded, players poured off the bench, celebrating as NHL commissioner Gary Bettman handed the Stanley Cup to Detroit’s Swedish captain Nicklas Lidstrom, who became the first European to lead his team to a championship.
”It felt great being the first guy on our team to touch the Cup,“ Lidstrom told reporters. ”Experience has a lot to do with it (winning).
”I think that gives the whole team some calmness. We’re not going to panic.
“Losing (Game Five) in triple overtime, I think we did a good job of putting that behind us. The main thing is we didn’t get rattled.”
After being shutout in the opening two games of the series, the Penguins promised they would not go down without a fight and were true to their word, battling the Red Wings and taking it right to the wire for the second successive game.
Clinging to a 3-1 lead, the Red Wings watched their advantage sliced to a single goal when Marian Hossa converted a power play with 87 seconds left in regulation, sending a shudder down the Detroit bench.
Just 48 hours earlier, the Red Wings were left stunned when Maxime Talbot tied Game Five with seconds left in regulation and Petr Sykora shredded party plans with his triple overtime winner.
But this time, the Red Wings refused to buckle under an all-out Penguins assault that left the capacity crowd breathless and on its feet as Detroit netminder Osgood made a last-second stop to seal the win.
”They came at us,“ said Osgood. ”It was chaotic the last 40 seconds.
“(Sidney) Crosby was flying. I knew it was good backhander, I tried to get out as far as I could and it ended up hitting my arm.”
The Penguins were welcomed back to the Igloo, where they have lost just once this post-season, by a thunderous ovation from a towel waving capacity crowd.
But the Red Wings quickly silenced the buzz, surging to a 2-0 lead on a first-period powerplay goal from Brian Rafalski and second-period tally from Valtteri Filppula.
Evgeni Malkin hit back for the Penguins to make it 2-1 before Henrik Zetterberg, the Conn Smythe winner as playoff MVP, restored Detroit’s two-goal cushion early in the third,
His rocket trickled through the goaltender’s pads for what proved to be the winning goal.
”The hockey God was not on our side tonight,“ the subdued Penguins coach Michel Therrien reporters. ”It hurts. You could feel the pain from everyone.
“It’s tough. We were that close.”
Editing by Martin Petty