Stanley was put back in his box for one more game, as the Pittsburgh Penguins made sure that their guests did not get to reprise last years skate around the Mellon Arena with Lord Stanley's Mug held highly aloft.
With determination the Pittsburgh Penguins took the play to the Detroit Red Wings in the first two periods of Tuesday nights' game six showdown, for the third period they withstood a frantic Detroit attack, holding on tenuously to their one goal lead, surviving the onslaught to claim a 2-1 victory and sending the series back to Detroit for game seven.
Marc Andre Fleury rose to the occasion in that third period, and for most of the previous two as he held off the Red Wings and their seemingly never ending attack in the last twenty minutes. As the last period provided its highly entertaining, if not stomach churning moments for Pens fans, Fleury denied all but Kris Draper, but not for the effort of the Wings.
They seemed to finally get untracked and free up some space in those last twenty minutes, sending wave after wave of white jerseys into the Pittsburgh end of the rink, the Pens were flailing away at pucks, bodies and sticks, desperate to make sure that the sudden momentum surge to Detroit would not be rewarded with a tying goal, let alone the Stanley Cup winning marker.
At one point it appeared that destiny was there for the Wings, as Daniel Cleary who has been having the playoff of a lifetime walked in on a breakaway, only to be stoned cold by Fleury, who repeated that same kind of magic time and time again on shot after shot.
Pittsburgh which began the game providing a dominating control of the play, found success on a goal from Jordan Staal who opened the scoring in the second period, the Pens had more than enough chances to pad that lead in the second but Red Wing goaltender Chris Osgood was more than up to the challenge, doing all he could to make sure that his team remained within striking distance of the chance to win their second Stanley Cup in row.
But Pittsburgh which is quite familiar with do or die in this playoff year, proved to be up to that challenge, despite their third period drama, they kept to their assignments, Tyler Kennedy pushing them to a two goal lead, a goal that eventually would prove to be winning goal as the Red Wing response came up just a little bit short.
The final moments of game six were among some of the most exciting playoff hockey we've seen in a number of years, providing much in the way of drama and setting the scene for every hockey fans dream moment, Game Seven.
The puck drops Friday night, sometime during that night or perhaps early into Saturday morning someone will finally hoist Stanley high, if these two teams can provide another night of hockey such as game six gave us, then this two day wait will be well worth it.
National Post-- Penguins refuse to roll over, force Game 7
National Post-- A celebration spoiled
Globe and Mail-- Penguins force Game 7
Globe and Mail-- Penguins put aside the doubt
Toronto Star-- Penguins force a Game 7
Toronto Sun-- Not this time, Detroit
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-- Penguins beat Red Wings, 2-1, head to Detroit for showdown
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-- Fleury blooms when it counts
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-- Desperation and desire had a name in Guerin
Pittsburgh Times Review-- Penguins force deciding Game Seven
Pittsburgh Times Review-- Pens show mettle
Pittsburgh Times Review-- Bylsma finds right combos
Detroit Free Press-- It's one for all
Detroit Free Press-- Osgood spectacular in losing effort
Detroit Free Press-- When Penguins play, did refs put whistles away?
Detroit News-- Penguins' win forces Wings to 7th game to keep Stanley Cup
Detroit News-- Chris Osgood has another big game despite loss