With a 3-1 lead in the series, the Detroit Red Wings had the opportunity to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins one more time and win the championship in front of their fans in Game Five at Joe Louis Arena yesterday.
Now they'll have to try and accomplish that goal in enemy territory, after the Penguins persevered for a 4-3, triple-overtime victory that pushed the series to a sixth game in Pittsburgh Wednesday.
Things looked good for Detroit fans for nearly the entire third period. Less than three minutes after Pavel Datsyuk tied the game on a power-play goal 6:43 into the frame, Brian Rafalski sent the Wings ahead for the first time of the contest, 3-2.
The crowd was loud, screaming ''We want the Cup!" The Stanley Cup they sought was out of its case and ready to make its appearance on the ice.
The Penguins looked down-and-out as time was ticking away. They pulled goalie Marc-André Fleury out of his net to gain a sixth skater; it was all or nothing. The strategy paid off, as Maxime Talbot jumped on a rebound given by goaltender Chris Osgood to score the biggest goal of his career. The game was tied at 3-all, and both teams headed to overtime.
The two squads battled during two entire overtime periods; Fleury kept his team alive with every save he made, hoping for someone among his team to score the winning goal. The Penguins goaltender never flinched as the pressure was on him to make a fatal mistake.
Then, during the third overtime period, a double-minor penalty whistled on Jiri Hudler opened the door to the Penguins. They took advantage of it. Petr Sykora scored the winner and extended the series to a sixth game.
The Penguins dominated the first period by playing with a needed sense of urgency. Marian Hossa opened the score halfway into the period with his 11th goal of the playoffs. Then, Adam Hall doubled Pittsburgh's lead before the end of the first frame.
But the Red Wings shifted gears and started to play better as the game went on. Early into the second period, Darren Helm put one past Fleury, making it a 2-1 game.
(Picture: Pittsburgh bench, courtesy Canadian Press.)