About an hour ago
The NHL Network and AT&T SportsNet are replaying a slew of old Pittsburgh Penguins games to occupy the hearts and minds of idle Penguins fans frustrated by a lack of hockey due to the coronavirus shutdown.
On Wednesday, the NHL Network will air the Penguins’ Stanley Cup clinching games from 1991, 1992 and 2016.
Between March 30 and April 8, AT&T SportsNet will air all four victories from the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals victories over the Detroit Red Wings. You can get the entire list of when the games can be seen here.
Those are all great contests to rewatch. If you have some extra time beyond that, throw on the 2017 Cup clincher in Nashville, Conor Sheary’s 2016 overtime winner in Game 2 against the San Jose Sharks, and Nick Bonino’s overtime game winner to eliminate the Washington Capitals at PPG Paints Arena in Game 6 of the 2016 Eastern Conference Semifinals.
There’s one game that is nowhere to be found on that list, but I wish it was.
That’s the 4-3 triple-overtime Stanley Cup Finals Game 5 victory in 2008 over the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.
That game sometimes gets lost in history because the Penguins didn’t win a ring that year. Nonetheless, it was an amazing victory.
Down 3-1 on the road, the Penguins were facing elimination. The Cup was in the building, ready to be awarded to the Red Wings. Having lost Game 4 at home, it felt like the Penguins’ 16-year championship drought was about to continue.
But the Pens got off to a strong start, scoring twice in the first period, courtesy of Marian Hossa (yes, we liked him once) and Adam Hall.
Detroit answered back, though, scoring three times over the second and third periods. Brian Rafalski gave the Red Wings the lead with 11:37 remaining.
That’s when the legend of Max Talbot began.
A year before he scored twice in Game 7 to win the Cup in that same building, Talbot (jumping on as the extra skater with the goaltender pulled) forced overtime that night with :35 seconds left.
What followed was an additional 49 minutes of white-knuckle tension over the course of two-and-a-half overtimes. Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury had to make 24 overtime saves and 55 in total to keep the Pens afloat.
That was until Petr Sykora eventually got the game winner on a power play shot at the 9:57 mark of the third overtime.
At the time of its conclusion, the 109:57 of game action made the contest the fifth-longest Finals game ever. The event lasted 4½ hours and ended at 12:46 a.m.
The legends from that game are endless.
• That goal was basically made possible because Rob Scuderi flubbed a play. He fanned on an attempt to move the puck up the boards, which resulted in an awkward movement to regather and get the puck out.
Detroit’s Jiri Hudler was trying to deflect the initial play on the puck and clipped Scuderi on the chin.
Scuderi started to bleed. So a four-minute power play was assessed against Detroit.
• The Penguins ordered pizzas for the players to eat in between overtime sessions. When asked if the pizza came from Little Caesars, since that company was founded by Wings owner Mike Ilitch, Sykora flatly stated “Domino’s.”
• Sykora allegedly called his shot, telling NBC rinkside analyst Pierre McGuire he was going to get the overtime game winner.
The winger also ended the fourth-longest game of all time when he was an Anaheim Duck during a 5-OT affair against the Dallas Stars in Game 1 of the 2003 Western Conference Semifinals.
• Ryan Malone turned in one of the most gutty moments in Pittsburgh sports history. Entering the game with a broken nose to begin with, in the second period, Malone was drilled in the face with a puck.
Yet, bloodied and bruised, Malone came back and blocked a shot at the end of regulation to help preserve the tie. He was also in front of the net on Sykora’s game winner.
By the next day, his face looked like hamburger. But he played Game 6 anyway.
• Fleury’s best save came against former Penguin Mikael Samuelsson. It was a sprawling toe save that resulted in Sergei Gonchar crashing into the boards.
Gonchar was pretty badly banged up. Despite missing time, though, Gonchar — like Malone — gutted up and eventually came back on the ice and got an assist on the game winner.
In the end, the Penguins couldn’t carry the momentum over to Game 6. Detroit won the Cup on Mellon Arena ice two days later by a final score of 3-2, in a fourth consecutive one-goal game.
What a culmination it would have been had the Penguins been able to pay off the Game 5 heroics. But for at least one night, the Pens spoiled Detroit’s party and forced the champagne to stay on ice.
And it was one of the best games I’ve ever covered.
Penguins/NHL | Sports | Breakfast With Benz