SI Vault
 
THE STANLEY CUP
Michael Farber
June 13, 2008
HOCKEYTOWN'S HEROES PREVAILED IN A CLASSIC SERIES
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
June 13, 2008

The Stanley Cup

HOCKEYTOWN'S HEROES PREVAILED IN A CLASSIC SERIES

View CoverRead All Articles
1 2 3 4 5

"It meant an awful lot to me that the guys let me go grab it next," Drake said on the Mellon Arena ice as his teammates celebrated. "A great feeling. I didn't think it would ever happen, that I would ever get a chance to lift it up."

In the ultimate game of the season—Detroit would win all four playoff series on the road—the Red Wings broke through early, putting a splash of scarlet in the Igloo whiteout as Rafalski ripped the puck past goalie Fleury five minutes into the match. Of course, that power-play goal might have been averted if the Penguins' Scuderi had put a little oomph in his rimmed clearing attempt. The puck never left the zone, and Detroit never left Fleury alone, passing the puck like the Globetrotters on a five-man weave until the defenseman had the time and room to unleash a slap shot.

But Scuderi's soft play was trumped in the second period when Fleury left a rebound on a middling Samuelsson shot, which, if it were any fatter, would have waddled into the slot. Valtteri Filppula outworked Brooks Orpik for the loose puck and swiped a backhand through Fleury's pads for a two-goal lead.

Malkin, who came fashionably late to the Stanley Cup finals, arrived with his first goal since the Game 5 clincher against the Philadelphia Flyers, a power-play rocket that cut the lead to 2-1 at 15:26 of the second period, but Fleury's gaffe on the second Detroit goal was merely a prelude to the play that will surely haunt him all summer.

Seven minutes into the final period Zetterberg, who would tie Crosby as the leading scorer in the playoffs with 27 points, fired on Fleury from the left circle. The puck bled through the goalie's pads, going about as quickly as the traffic in the construction zone on I-75 in Detroit. Fleury, unaware of the puck's location, fell back in his crease in an attempt to smother it but wound up nudging it with his rump into his net. As sublime as Fleury was in the Game 5 triple-overtime marathon, Hudler's weak backhand winner in Game 4 and the Zetterberg clincher—Fleury looked as if he were laying an egg—would prove to be Pittsburgh's undoing.

But the Penguins showed admirable resilience, getting life when a power-play goal credited to Hossa with 1:27 left cut the Red Wings' advantage to one. After Datsyuk was tripped in the neutral zone—with no call from referees Brad Watson and Marc Joannette—Osgood made a last-second glove save on a desperate Crosby backhander. Hossa took a one-handed swipe at the rebound, knocking it over a prostrate Osgood and through the crease as time expired, touching off a celebration on the ice and back at Joe Louis Arena, where several thousand fans had gathered to root for their team.

While the historic significance of Lidstrom becoming the first European-born-and-trained captain to win the Cup was not lost on anyone—"It's something I'm very proud of," he said—the sheer quantity of championships won by some of the core Red Wings resonated even more. Four other Red Wings now have won four Cups with Detroit: ex-Grind Liners Draper, Maltby and Darren McCarty and Zetterberg's linemate Tomas Holmstrom.

"When [Anaheim's Scott] Niedermayer won last year and announcers were mentioning he was a four-time Stanley Cup winner, that sounded a heckuva lot better than three-time winner," Draper said. "It's special joining that elite company."

1 2 3 4 5