Penguins beat Red Wings, 2-1, head to Detroit for showdown
Brooks Orpik battles Detroit's Tomas Holmstrom in front of Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury registered 25 saves in helping send the series back to Detroit for Game 7 Friday night at Joe Louis Arena.
Last night's game had Nancy Vogel and everyone else at Mellon Arena on the edge of their seats.
Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg gets hung up on the crossbar after crashing the net against Marc-Andre Fleury. Zetterberg was called for interference on the play in the first period.
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Marc-Andre Fleury's was named the No. 1 star in the Penguins' 2-1 victory against Detroit last night in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final, and understandably so.
Stop 25 of 26 shots -- one of them on a Daniel Cleary breakaway with 1:42 left in regulation -- and it's tough for people to ignore.
Fleury's totals don't reflect the 20 shots his teammates blocked before they made it to the net. Brooks Orpik accounted for a half-dozen himself. Rob Scuderi chipped in with four and stopped a couple in the crease as regulation was winding down.
But none illustrated the Penguins' will to win -- and to keep their season alive -- quite like the block Petr Sykora made in the second period.
No matter. Throwing himself in front of one underscored just how much the Penguins were willing to do to force the series to a seventh game at Joe Louis Arena Friday night.
"That got the whole bench up," Orpik said.
A nice part of the standing-room crowd of 17,132 at Mellon Arena, as well. Not that they spent much of the night sitting down, anyway.
Not when they were watching the Penguins rebound from an embarrassing, 5-0 loss in Game 5 to set up a winner-take-all finale in two days.
"We've given ourselves a chance to go up there," forward Max Talbot said. "One hundred and 11 games down for the season, and it comes down to one."
History says that -- the formality of Game 7 aside -- the series effectively is over, because the past six times a Cup final has gone to a Game 7, it was won by the home team.
Indeed, no road club has earned a championship with a victory in Game 7 since Montreal did it at Chicago Stadium in 1971.
It's impossible to dispute a single word of that. And nearly that difficult for the Penguins to pretend that it matters.
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"Do I care?" Talbot said. "No, I don't."
And he likely shouldn't. Not when the Penguins' performance in Game 6 reinforced the point that they are a legitimate threat, albeit an underdog, to win their first Cup since 1992, even though they will have to do it in a venue where they have lost three times in this series.
"Now, it's anyone's game," center Sidney Crosby said. "We have to battle and find a way to pull it off."
Getting another effort from Fleury like the one he put forth in Game 6 would go a long way toward making that possible.
The crowd greeted him with cheers before the opening faceoff, and Fleury responded with a near-flawless performance, from the time he denied Henrik Zetterberg at 3:24 of the opening period until he withstood the Red Wings' final flurry as time was running out.
"When Fleury's on his game, like he was tonight, you can tell from the first stop he makes," Talbot said.
No save was bigger, though, than the one on Cleary, who was sprung behind the Penguins' defensemen by a Pavel Datsyuk pass. Orpik tried to catch him from behind, but had to settle for distracting him.
Ahead, 2-1, late, Penguins center Evgeni Malkin wins a faceoff in Detroit's offensive zone. Defenseman Brooks Orpik gets the puck but turns it over just inside the blue line. Detroit right winger Dan Cleary gets behind Orpik and receives a lead pass that sets him off on a breakaway. Cleary moves in on net, goes to his backhand and shoots at goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury's glove side. Fleury stretches out and rejects the shot with his right toe. The save was Fleury's biggest test of the night.
"I wanted to get a little stick on his stick, without taking a penalty," Orpik said.
He did, but that did not prevent Cleary from getting off a dangerous shot.
"I tried to be patient, wait for him to make the first move," Fleury said. "And I got a piece of it."
The only time he did not do that was when Kris Draper punched in a Jonathan Ericsson rebound at 8:01 of the third to slice the Penguins' lead to 2-1.
They had gone in front when Jordan Staal put in his own rebound during a two-on-one break with Matt Cooke 51 seconds into the middle period, and got what proved to be the winner from Tyler Kennedy from the left side of the crease at 5:35 of the third, when he rapped a shot past Osgood for his fifth goal.
"I just kept whacking at it, and it finally went in," Kennedy.
That's the same kind of persistence his teammates showed throughout Game 6, and it's why they will get a 60-minute shot at a championship Friday night.
"We have a chance, and that's what we were working for," Kennedy said. "Just to get a chance."
First Published June 10, 2009 12:00 am