Penguins force Game 6 with 4-3 3OT win

| Tuesday, June 3, 2008

DETROIT -- Petr Sykora called it. He just wasn't exactly sure he would see it.

"Calling the shot, it was just between the periods, it was something stupid I said," Sykora said early Tuesday morning after he scored his first goal of the Stanley Cup final - at 9:57 of the third overtime - to give the Penguins a stirring 4-3 victory in Game 5.

"I said, 'Guys, I'm going to get one.'"

He did, helping the Penguins get the one they needed to send this Cup final back to Pittsburgh.

The Red Wings lead the best-of-seven series, 3-2. But the Penguins can force a winner-take-all seventh game with a victory Wednesday night in Game 6 at Mellon Arena.

No mater what turn this series takes from here, the Penguins proved in Game 5 they belong on the NHL's grand stage.

"Is it over• Is the series over?" defenseman Brooks Orpik defiantly asked Monday morning.

Yep, the Penguins showed for work at Joe Louis Arena around 10 a.m. Monday and left before 2 a.m. Tuesday.

Between those hours, they played almost two full hours of physically taxing, mentally draining playoff hockey.

Game 5 lasted 109 minutes and 57 seconds - the fifth-longest contest in Cup final history.

"It's a long game," defenseman Darryl Sydor said. "But we live to play another day."

Two teammates are quite responsible for that.

Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury played the game of his life - "I'd say so, yeah," he said - and made 55 saves, including 24 in the overtime sessions.

Those extra-session stops were necessary after forward Max Talbot stuffed a shot past Detroit goaltender Chris Osgood with 34.5 seconds remaining in regulation.

That goal, Talbot's third of the playoffs, tied the score, 3-3.

It was a must-have goal in a must-win game.

The Penguins trailed the series, 3-1, entering Game 5. The Red Wings and their fans were ready to celebrate a fourth championship in 11 seasons.

But the Penguins stunned everybody with two first-period goals.

They had failed to score at Joe Louis Arena in Games 1 and 2.

Last night, right wing Marian Hossa tallied his 11th of the playoffs at 8:37 of the first period. Forward Adam Hall netted his third, and second of the Cup final, at 14:41.

The Red Wings inched close at 2:54 of the second period on center Darren Helm's third playoff goal.

Detroit owned the third period - out-shooting the Penguins, 14-4 - and tied the score, 2-2, on left wing Pavel Datsyuk's power-play goal at 6:43.

Red Wings defenseman Brian Rafalski tallied at 9:23 to put his club ahead, 3-2.

Hope seemed lost for the Penguins.

But hope was all they had.

With Fleury pulled for an extra attacker as the final seconds of the third period ticked away, Talbot waived twice at a rebound of Hossa's shot. Talbot's second whack slipped past Osgood.

"Biggest goal of my life," Talbot said. "Not the prettiest, but the biggest."

Detroit fired 13 shots Fleury in the first overtime. He was game.

The Penguins - down to five defenseman because of Sergei Gonchar's back injury, the result of a third-period collision with the end-zone boards - started to gather speed after the fourth intermission.

A double-minor high-stick penalty to Red Wings center Jiri Hudler at 9:21 of the third overtime provided the Penguins four minutes of power-play time.

Gonchar, who had not played since 17:11 of the third period, stepped onto the ice with his aching back.

With their power-play quarterback in-hand, the Penguins took command.

Gonchar and center Evgeni Malkin assisted on Sykora's winning goal - his first in eight games.

Malkin had failed to register a point in four previous Cup final games.

"It was great when we saw Gonch coming back," Sykora said. "When you have him on the point, it changes the whole power play. He made a couple good passes.

"Luckily, I got a great pass from (Malkin). I missed a one-timer before probably by 20 feet. ... He made a beautiful pass. I tried to put it upstairs and it went in." Additional Information:

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