2008 NHL Stanley Cup Finals: Penned Up on Game Five

Steven CulpsCorrespondent IJune 3, 2008

Game five of this Stanley Cup Finals will not soon be forgotten.

I may not be the first to say this, but I thought the final minutes of regulation in game four were to be the precursor to the inevitable Stanley Cup celebration for the Wings that only can happen in Detroit. Overturned cars and looting, not withstanding.

The coronation had to wait as Maxime Talbot handed the Wings a proverbial wooden nickel with his game-tying goal with less than a minute left of regulation. Little did we know then what we were in for next.

It had produced an instant hockey classic that even fair weather fans had to find compelling.

The overtimes found a desperate and almost over-matched Pens squad, already weakened by varied injuries to Sergei Gonchar and Ryan Malone, adamantly kept trying to keep the inevitable from happening. The Pens made it a habit to turn away every Red Wing surge.

Even Sidney Crosby, the Pens' superstar and captain, was throwing his body around to stop shots to make up for the shortcomings of his other teammates.

Marc-Andre Fleury must have been completely unconscious while making incredible 55 saves in just over 100 minutes of game time. Someone should have checked Fleury for a pulse.

In this intense three OT epic (not to mention up-and-down, momentum-changing, heart-wrenching playoff insanity), the game was ultimately decided by an error in stick-handling judgment by Jiri Hudler set up the deciding goal during his four minute sin-bin visit.

Just remember, kids, you cannot win games if you beat yourself.

Petr Sykora had said, by his own admission, his "calling" for the game-winner was done half-jokingly in passing by the referees during the final intermission. I felt it has been indelibly overblown and misrepresented by certain credible news sources. It is a bit unfortunate that after a masterfully played game, this has made to be such important news.

But for Sykora, quoting Detroit's own Kid Rock, "it ain't braggin' [sic] if ya back it up."

Even as a Detroit diehard, we must still give the Pens credit where credit is due (even if it hurts me to do so).

But we must point out something that may not be so encouraging—the Pens have given the Wings the opportunity win the Cup at their home barn. Have fun with that one, Pittsburgh.

The fun and games continue on Wednesday at 8 P.M. on NBC.