Sports can be a matter of inches. It can also be a matter of luck. For Marian Hossa and the Pittsburgh Penguins, it was both.
After relinquishing a two-goal lead in the third period the Penguins looked like they may be packing their bags to play Game Six tomorrow night in New York.
Luckily, a four-minute penalty on Chris Drury's high stick penalty returned the momentum to the Penguins.
The Penguins came back on the ice after the third intermission with two and a half minutes left in their power play and showed that their young legs could keep pumping into overtime.
The Pens kept the puck in their offensive zone for the majority of the 7:10 of overtime the two teams played. The team seemed to turn the afterburners on as they appeared to be faster than the older Rangers and playing with a renewed sense of purpose.
They also benefited from a bit of luck. In the eighth minute, the Penguins' captain Sidney Crosby brought the puck into the Rangers zone and passed the puck to Pascal Dupris.
He then appeared to pass it to Marian Hossa, who put it through the five hole of Rangers' goalie Henry Lundqvist. Upon further review, Dupris' pass actually hit Rangers' defenseman Daniel Girardi's skate and slid into a perfect position for Hossa to hit the back of the net.
A few inches to the left or right, and the pass may have missed Hossa altogether and ended up along the boards.
It was Hossa's second goal of the game, and for the new Penguin, it seemed to solidify him as a part of the team. Hossa was acquired from Atlanta before the trade deadline and formed a triple threat with the already dangerous Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Hossa was slow to start with the Penguins but had seemed to adjust to his new teammates before the end of the regular season. Hossa, however, has been quiet throughout the first two rounds of the playoffs.
Maybe quiet isn't the right word since he had scored three goals before Sunday's game. Perhaps, underachieving would be a better word.
Hossa has been known to dominate and control games and Penguins' fans seemed to expect a goal a game from the All Star. After a two goal game on Sunday, Hossa has five for the playoffs, tying him with teammate Malkin and sending the Penguin to the Eastern Conference finals.
Hossa also made a stellar defensive play, hustling to break up a Rangers short-handed charge on the Penguins' goal.
The finals should be a hard-hitting affair featuring one of the oldest rivalries in hockey. For the Penguins, it seems a little like a dream.
After winning only 22 games in the 2005-2006 campaign no one would have guessed the Pens would be able to put together a team contending for a chance to play for the Stanley Cup a mere two years later.
Smart front office moves (drafting Crosby, acquiring Malkin, Hossa and Petr Sykora, and putting a smart combination of talented youth with experienced veterans) have the Penguins one series away from the Stanley Cup finals with home ice advantage and an incredible amount of momentum in hand.