- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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"I just loved the way that he played," Therrien said. "The time he was on the ice, he was doing the right thing. And as a coach, you gotta see those things. He was around the puck, around it at the time. And it's a feeling, too, that coaches need to have at that time."
So Talbot joined Crosby, Malkin and Hossa as the quartet of Pittsburgh forwards buzzing around the net in the most desperate minute of the season.
As a Hockey Hall of Fame employee polished the Stanley Cup, Talbot, a fourth-liner, an energy guy, a construction worker's son, scored the biggest goal of his career with 34.3 seconds left to send the game into overtime.
There is no way Osgood should have abandoned the post to his left, and there is no way Talbot should have had two solid whacks at the puck from the doorstep without Lidstrom or Rafalski knocking him on his derriere, but Talbot's persistence is the hallmark of the play that saved the Pittsburgh season. On a team that provided a month's worth of hockey heroics in one evening and part of the next morning—Malone played with a mangled kisser and cotton crammed up his already broken nose; defenseman Sergei Gonchar returned from back spasms sustained after a late second-period run-in with the end boards for the power play in the third overtime; the struggling Sykora told NBC's Pierre McGuire on the bench during overtime that he would score the winner, which he did at 9:57 of the third extra session to end the fifth-longest game in Cup finals history—there was no contribution greater than the one provided by Talbot, an eighth-round draft choice who had scored a mere 30 goals in 186 NHL games.
Pittsburgh 4, Detroit 3. This was not a game, this was hockey's version of War and Peace.
All the way back in the first round, Lidstrom, as Detroit captain, secretly had allowed himself the luxury of pondering which teammate would get the Stanley Cup after him if—when—the Red Wings won it.
Lidstrom did Dallas.
"Looking at all the players on our team, Dallas [Drake] is one of the first ones I played with," said Lidstrom, the Stanley Cup beside him on a podium after the 3-2 clinching win in Game 6. "He came in the year after I did. He's been in the league 16 years. He's had a good, long career. And he had never been to a final before. So it felt natural for me to give it to him for all the effort and hours and everything he's put into the game—and not having a chance to hoist a Cup yet."
On an elegant team the 39-year-old Drake, part of the same great 1989 Detroit draft with Lidstrom, was the old warhorse, a fourth-liner who would throw checks, sacrifice himself, do a lot of the heavy lifting for the Red Wings. As Lidstrom sagely decided, this hockey lifer deserved to do a little more heavy lifting.