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Squandered opportunities doom Penguins

By Mike Prisuta
Saturday, June 7, 2008

At least they had their moments.

One occurred when Marian Hossa, working behind the Red Wings' net, found Sidney Crosby on the half-wall.

Crosby found Evgeni Malkin on the other side of the ice.

Malkin found the back of the net with a slap shot that went right through Chris Osgood.

Malkin raised his stick with one hand and let the frustration ooze from his body, as the adulation of 17,000-plus washed over him.

Malkin, mostly a no-show in the Stanley Cup final, was finally cleansed.

Malkin, the guy the Penguins desperately needed to get going to force a Game 7 on Saturday in Detroit, was at last redeemed.

Another such moment materialized with just 1:27 to play, when a power-play, sixth-attacker goal by Hossa gave the Mellon Arena faithful one more reason to scream.

But in the end "Whiteout Night" became "Lights Out Night" on Wednesday night.

The Penguins battled but ultimately surrendered Lord Stanley's Cup to Detroit, 3-2.

For the Red Wings, Os-good that ends good.

For the Penguins, their frustration literally extended to the final second, when yet another opportunity, this one off the stick of Hossa, refused to go into the net.

The first of those occurred less than three minutes in, when a punishing check by Ryan Malone produced a turnover in the Detroit end, and Petr Sykora found himself with the puck and all the time and space he needed.

Sykora, who had picked a spot that was barely perceptible when he ended the marathon that Game 5 had become, this time hit Osgood right in the Winged Wheel on his chest.

In the offensive end, that was the story of the series for the Penguins.

Such opportunities too often eluded them.

They didn't get a ton of them, but they had enough to expect that they'd have scored more than 10 goals in six games.

The Red Wings didn't generate many chances themselves in Game 6, but as the contest wore on they once again became the beneficiaries of the type of goals you simply can not surrender in the Stanley Cup final if you hope to ultimately hoist the Cup.

The first of those in Game 6 made it 2-0 at 8:07 of the second. Marc-Andre Fleury gave up a bad rebound and then permitted a follow shot by Valtteri Filppula to squirt between his legs and in.

The second, credited to Henrik Zetterberg, was actually knocked into the net by Fleury after experiencing another five-hole issue.

Those were the only two even-strength goals scored in Game 6.

In the defensive end, such developments were the other story of the series.

Fleury was heroic enough to cement himself as the Penguins' franchise-goaltender-in-waiting in Game 5, but he was nonetheless too often too inconsistent in the series, too susceptible to goals he'd like to have back, goals that became even more damaging considering the problems the Penguins' were having at the other end.

It was a series in which the Penguins proved they could play with the Red Wings.

When they're able to play consistently with teams of such caliber, they'll beat them.

They didn't get the goal-scoring or goaltending they needed this time.

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