Fans gather to try to pull one out
Penguins' fan Zack Ziemianski, of Lower Burrell, watches at Mellon Arena last night as his team's early 2-0 lead over the Red Wings slips away. The Penguins won a marathon game but still trail in the series, three games to two.
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Moments away from becoming the site of a wake for the Penguins' hockey season, Mellon Arena early today became the scene of a celebration that fans will remember for years.
Die-hard Penguins fans Dan Lennon, 20, of Millvale, and his buddy, Dan Schwartzmier, 21, of Millvale, were on their way out of the arena last night when Max Talbot scored with seconds left in regulation to tie the game.
They darted back in to watch the overtime sessions, which culminated with Petr Sykora's goal in the third overtime that gave the Penguins a 4-3 victory over Detroit.
"We missed the tying goal," Mr. Lennon said. "It was the longest game I ever saw, but it was well worth it. For them to come back this far it shows you can't give up on them because they don't give up."
"It was the longest, best game ever," Mr. Schwartzmier said as they and their exuberant brethren spilled into Pittsburgh's streets, cheering and honking their horns.
Jennie Cochenour, 21, of West Newton, and her sister, Stephanie Mull, 29, of Apollo, were hugging each other outside the arena after the game ended.
"We believed in them all along," Ms. Cochenour said. "We are so happy. I just wanted them to win so bad."
The thousands of fans watching the game on the arena scoreboard rode a rollercoaster of emotions as the Penguins took a 2-0 lead before faltering.
When the Penguins' Marian Hossa scored, the crowd let loose.
When the Red Wings' Niklas Kronwall knocked the puck into his own net, they went crazy.
When Red Wings forward Darren Helm charged toward Penguins goalie Marc Andre-Fleury on a breakaway late in the first period, you could sense thousands of people holding their breath at once. And when Mr. Helm's shot went wide of the net, the fans' relief was expressed in one more celebratory roar.
It was the third time the Penguins and Mellon Arena opened their doors to fans wishing to soak up the contagious enthusiasm that the run for the Stanley Cup has brought out.
Last night's crowd of 3,500, for whatever reason, was the smallest of the three but was determined to make enough noise for the whole city. Most of them appeared to be younger than 21, meaning they couldn't congregate in taverns. So where better to be?
Will Arthur, 15, a freshman at Upper St. Clair High School, came to the previous two game broadcasts and said that even though he walked out of the arena depressed both times, he wanted to be there for Game 5.
"It's the atmosphere of it, the big crowd," said Will, who attended with his father, Randy.
Mellon Arena usher Karan Ulrich, 48, of Penn Hills, was watching despondent fans slump out of the arena when Mr. Talbot scored the goal with 30 seconds left.
"This is another one of those moments where I'm always going to remember where I was at," she said.
Hundreds of fans stuck it out, singing along during the intermissions as the arena sound system played Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" and Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer."
Blair Feher of Cranberry was guiding his tearful sons, Kip, 9, and Alec, 8, to the family car late in the third period when the season seemed all but over. "I told them if we didn't win it this year, this team will win it the next five years in a row."
First Published June 3, 2008 1:14 am