Game on….

The Wings come out taking it to Pittsburgh.  Like you’d expect in a Game 7. There’s good energy and a lot of hitting early.  Dan Cleary gets the first big scoring chance but he’s in too deep to beat Marc-Andre Fleury.

This is the first Game 7 in Detroit in a Cup Final since April 14, 1955.  The Wings won that night 3-1 over Montreal and the season was over.  April 14.

The playoffs didn’t even begin for Detroit this season until April 16.

Gordie Howe scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal in that 1955 game against Montreal.  It came with :11 left in the second period.

Here’s the list of Red Wings who have scored a Stanley Cup-winning goal:

2008 Henrik Zetterberg

2002 Brendan Shanahan

1998 Martin Lapointe

1997 Darren McCarty

1955 Gordie Howe

1954 Tony Leswick (OT)

1952 Metro Prystai

1950 Pete Babando (2OT)

1943 Joe Carveth

1937 Marty Barry

1936 Pete Kelly

I’m not going to lie to you.  I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard of those last two guys and I like to think I know a thing or two about the history of the Detroit Red Wings.

A little under six left in the first and the Red Wings have staved off the first Pittsburgh power play of Game 7.  The overall play seems a bit more even now.

Entering this year’s playoffs, two of the top 5 scorers for Detroit all-time in the Stanley Cup Final were named Howe: Gordie (#1, 50 points) and Syd (#5, 20 points).

Entering this season, Pittsburgh’s all-time scoring leader in the Final had 19 points.  Some guy named Mario Lemieux.

Valtteri Filppula has a great chance but Fleury comes up with a Johnny Bower poke check.  Ever hear of Johnny Bower?  He beat Detroit the last time Detroit played in a Game 7 in the Final. 1964.  Shut ‘em out, too.  4-0.  First ever shutout in a Final Game 7.  Bower’s record lasted for a year.  In 1965, Montreal blanked Chicago in Game 7 in the first Final since 1955—Detroit’s 7-game win over Canadiens, remember?—in which the home team won every game. The home team has won every game (so far) in this series.  I think Gump Worsley was the goalie the night for Montreal, but I can’t sure because Charlie Hodge also appeared in goal for the Habs in that Final.  But if I had to bet, I’d say it was Gump.  Great name, Gump;  don’t you think?

The first is over.  No score.  Good period.  Pittsburgh came on in the middle of the period but Detroit had some great chances at the end.

1:13 into the second and the Pens go up 1-0.   Maxime Talbot got the goal when Brad Stewart’s clearing attempt hit the skate of Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin and caromed right to Talbot in front.  Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall sort of waved at Talbot with his stick and Talbot was able to make a play and beat Chris Osgood under his right leg.

Johan Franzen takes Sidney Crosby out of the game with a clean check in the neutral zone.  Who knows how long he’ll be out, but he’s gone to the dressing room.  Detroit’s on the power play for the first time, too.

10:07 into the second and its 2-0.  Talbot again, this time polishing off a two-on-one after the Penguins should have been called for Interference but weren’t.  How can Detroit get caught on an odd-man rush in their own building in Game 7?  Talbot beat Osgood glove side high from well inside the rim of the left circle.  The color man on CBC says, “Osgood lost his net.”  That is, he forgot where the net was relative to his position on the ice.  I play goal so I know its easy to do what with the net being behind you and all.  I’ve “lost my net” plenty of times.  But never in a Game 7.  Then again, I’ve never been in a Game 7, actually.

Maxime Talbot is bidding to be the Stanley Cup-winning goal scorer this year.  Here’s the all-time list of Pittsburgh’s Stanley Cup-winning goal scorers:

1992 Ron Francis

1991 Ulf Samuelsson

2-0 Pittsburgh after two.  Detroit missed some great chances late, again.  Pens are 10-0 when leading after 2 in the playoffs this year.  Detroit is 0-5 when trailing after 2. This is trouble for the Red Wings, with a capital “T” and that’s what Talbot starts with.

Almost halfway through the third period and still its 2-0, Pittsburgh.  Detroit has outscored opponents 20-9 in the 3rd period in the playoffs this season, but tonight they can’t get in deep against the Penguins.  They’ve outscored opponents 75-48 overall in the postseason and it doesn’t look they are going to win the Cup.  Crosby’s back—his first shift since he got hurt mid-way through the second period comes almost ten minutes into the third.

Fleury is trying to become the 4th goalie to throw a Game 7 shutout in the Final.  In addition to those we mentioned earlier, Martin Brodeur shut out Anaheim in Game 7 in 2003.  The Ducks coach in 2003?  Current Wings coach Mike Babcock.

Under 8 to go and Pittsburgh still doesn’t have a shot on goal in the period.  Detroit has only 4.

Pittsburgh 2, Detroit 1. Jonathan Ericsson at 13:53 on a lob-in kind of shot from the right point.  Might have knuckleballed on Fluery, might have been deflected.  But, it’s in the net and the Wings are back in this thing.

5:00 to go and everybody in the place is standing.  Both teams look a little tired.  They should be.

3:23 left and its time for a commercial.  What tension.  The waiting is the hardest part.

The PA guy at the Joe just said, “You can get louder than that, hockey fans.”  Really, three minutes left in Game 7 and Game Operations think you have to fire up the fans?  How stupid is that?

2:10 left.  Kronwall hits the post!  He hit the damn post!  OMG.  That might be it, right there.  Replay shows it was the crossbar he hit, not the post.  This does not make it feel any better.

1:17 left.  Time Out.  Faceoff in the Pens zone and Osgood is out.

“Last Minute of Play in This Period…”

Wings offside with 32 seconds left.  Osgood has to go back in.  Wings shoot it in…and its in the crowd with :16 left.  Faceoff outside the line.  Situation desperate.

Lidstrom gets a chance at the buzzer—a lot of net if he could get it high, but he can’t and Fleury dives across and makes one more amazing save and that’s it.  The Penguins win the Cup.  Heartache in Detroit.  Bud Lynch comes back to the PA mike (he makes only an occasional appearance there these days as he’s 90 years old) and tells the fans to “stand by for the presentation of the Stanley Cup to the Pittsburgh Penguins.”  That says it all, doesn’t it?

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