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Penguins aren't history yet

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By Mike Prisuta
Tuesday, June 3, 2008

DETROIT -- The Red Wings entered Joe Louis Arena as they always do, from a locker room decorated with 10 replica Stanley Cups, through a corridor dedicated to the franchise's hall-of-fame heritage, beneath an impossible-to-miss sign that reminds "To Whom Much is Given, Much Is Expected" and out onto an ice surface that looks up at banners honoring six retired numbers -- one of which is Gordie Howe's immortal No. 9.

And when the Red Wings got there, they had every intention of adding to the grandeur, of carving out yet another chapter of championship lore and glory by doing what they do to the Penguins.

"We're not built to fight you," Red Wings general manager Ken Holland has said. "We're not built to get into the fisticuffs. But we're going to battle for pucks; we're not going to back off along the wall. We're going to block shots. We're going to go to all the hard areas. We're going to play hockey.

"When we've got the puck, we're going to hang onto it; we're going to make you take it away from us. When you have the puck, we're going to be organized, and we're going to try to make it difficult for you to get near our net."

As a franchise, the Penguins aren't nearly as decorated.

As players, they're only beginning to compile their resumes.

And, as a team, their game is similar to Detroit's, but not yet as consistent.

Still, they played Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final Monday night as if they still had a say in this series, despite their 3-1 series deficit.

They still had a say entering the second overtime.

And the third.

And they're still alive and breathing in a series that will require a Game 6 after a power-play goal by Petr Sykora at 9:57 of the third overtime -- one that delivered the Penguins to a 4-3 victory.

In the early going, it was all Penguins.

They bolted to a 2-0 lead less than 15 minutes in and could have been ahead by three, four or even five goals had they only finished the wonderful opportunities they created for themselves.

The Red Wings found their stride entering the third period and facing a 2-1 deficit.

They relentlessly attacked the Penguins and willed home the game-tying and then apparent Cup-winning goals before the Penguins could so much as muster another shot at Chris Osgood.

Early and late, it was end-to-end, and it was breathtaking.

Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made the Red Wings work for it, playing his best and most spectacular game of the series.

Fleury's much-needed effort was on the verge of being wasted when he was pulled from the net and the Penguins scrambled desperately for a sixth-attacker goal, while a suddenly delirious crowd chanted "We Want the Cup."

Max Talbot made them wait for it, stunning Osgood, the Red Wings and perhaps even the ghost of Terry Sawchuk (he's No. 1 in the Joe Louis rafters) by jamming home a second-chance whack from the side of the net with 34.5 seconds remaining in regulation.

Overtime -- and plenty of it.

History's still on hold.

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