IN A SEEMINGLY
PIVOTAL GAME OF THEIR PLAYOFFS, the Penguins won the battle of wounded
knee—courtesy of Sergei Gonchar.
You probably know
somebody like Gonchar, at least from the movies. He is the cowboy in a Western
who bites a bullet while some quack sawbones yanks a slug out of his leg. The
defenseman was playing with a right knee so badly damaged that a surgeon with a
scalpel—or, if Gonchar is as tough as he appears, a Bowie knife—was set to
operate the moment that the Stanley Cup finals concluded.
Gonchar, victim of
a knee-on-knee drive-by courtesy of Alex Ovechkin in Game 4 of the conference
semifinals against the Washington Capitals that probably should have knocked
him out of the playoffs, scored on a screened power-play slapper that proved to
be the winner in the 4-2 Penguins victory.
Gonchar's goal at
10:29 of the third, coming after Fleury had survived a two-period, 26-shot
onslaught by the dominant Red Wings, had—for the moment, at least—saved the
June 4, Mellon Arena, Pittsburgh
Penguins 4, Red Wings 2
THE DÉJÀ VU
STANLEY Cup finals became Must-See TV.
the script of the 2008 series, the near-rerun was replaced by a 2½-hour
spectacular (with a second period for the ages) that was wildly entertaining
and raucous. Playing for the fourth time in six nights, a hellish pace for
midseason let alone the NHL's showcase event, the Penguins broke the old
pattern and seemingly left the Red Wings' legendary poise in tatters with a 4-2
And though Fleury
(37 saves) was brilliant for the Penguins, the match truly belonged to The
Malkin. In the
past Malkin's performance in the playoffs has faded in and out like a bad
cellphone connection. Can you hear him now? He opened the game by drawing a
penalty and then scored a power-play goal with a poke on a rebound off the
But Malkin was
merely revving his engine. After taking a moronic hooking penalty five feet
from Osgood in the second—the first of successive penalties that forced the
Penguins to play shorthanded for the next 3:59—he would more than make amends.
With the score tied 2-2 some three minutes after his penalty-box shame, Malkin
picked Stuart's pocket at Detroit's right point and burst out on a two-on-one
with Crosby. On occasion Bylsma had used the two centers on the same line, and
there was no more serendipitous time than this one. Malkin drove down the right
flank and Crosby down the left, leaving elongated Red Wings defenseman Jonathan
Ericsson as the monkey in the middle. Malkin's first pass hit the defenseman,
but Malkin gathered the puck and this time feathered one to Crosby, who had a
tap-in goal, his first of the finals.