Penguins dethrone Wings

Saturday, June 13, 2009
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby raises the Stanley Cup after his team's win in Game 7 on Friday in Detroit. (MARK HUMPHREY ~ Associated Press)

Pittsburgh held on in Game 7 to beat Detroit 2-1 for the Cup.

DETROIT -- Slide over Super Mario and make room on the Stanley Cup for a new batch of Pittsburgh Penguins.

Max Talbot scored two second-period goals, and the Penguins overcame the loss of captain Sidney Crosby to beat the defending champion Detroit Red Wings 2-1 on Friday night in Game 7 and win the Stanley Cup.

Instead of the Red Wings becoming the NHL's first repeat champion since winning titles in 1997 and 1998, this turned into a Penguins party. The last time Pittsburgh won the Cup, in 1991 and '92, it was captained by owner Mario Lemieux.

Marc-Andre Fleury was stellar in making 23 saves -- none bigger than the one he made with 1 second left as he dived across the crease and knocked away a shot by Niklas Lidstrom.

Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury makes a save against the Detroit Red Wings during the first period of Game 7 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup finals in Detroit, Friday, June 12, 2009. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press,Frank Gunn)

"I knew there wasn't much time left," Fleury said. "The rebound was wide. I just decided to get my body out there and it hit me in the ribs, so it was good."

He erased the memories of a 5-0 loss in Game 5 at Joe Louis Arena that put the Penguins on the brink of elimination. Pittsburgh returned home and gutted out a 2-1 win, behind Fleury's 25 saves, on Tuesday that forced a seventh game in Detroit.

This was Pittsburgh's second championship in four months, following the Steelers' Super Bowl victory in February.

Fleury's last save started a wild scene in the crease that culminated in the awarding of the Cup. Crosby took it from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and skated a half lap to center ice before handing it off to Bill Guerin, who joined the team at the trade deadline and became a champion for the first time since 1995 with New Jersey.

Lemieux, the No. 1 pick in the 1984 draft by Pittsburgh, celebrated on the ice with Crosby -- the phenom who has been living in the owner's house since joining the team.

Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury blocks the puck away from Red Wings center Valtteri Filppula during the first period of Game 7 on Friday in Detroit. (CARLOS OSORIO ~ Associated Press)

The Penguins turned the tables on the Red Wings and captured the Cup on enemy ice, just as Detroit did in Pittsburgh last year. The Penguins are the first team to win the title the year after losing in the finals since Edmonton did it 25 years ago against the New York Islanders -- the last finals rematch before this one.

Evgeni Malkin, who led the playoffs with 36 points, earned the Conn Smythe Trophy as the postseason MVP. He assisted on Talbot's first goal.

Crosby, just four years after being the No. 1 selection in the draft, became the youngest captain of a champion at 21 years old. He played just one shift after leaving the ice during the second period after taking a hard hit along the boards from Johan Franzen.

"It's unbelievable. It's the stuff you dream of as a kid. It's reality now," Crosby said. "We worked so hard. It's amazing to see how far we've come, and couldn't feel any better."

Jonathan Ericsson made it tense when he cut the Red Wings' deficit to 2-1 with 6:07 remaining. His shot from inside the blue line sailed past Fleury's glove and sent the fans into a frenzy.

Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin carries the Conn Smythe Trohy, presented to the most valuable player in the playoffs.

Niklas Kronwall nearly tied it with 2:14 left, but his drive smacked the crossbar flush and caromed out of danger. The Red Wings pressed further in the Penguins end after goalie Chris Osgood was pulled, but the puck ended up behind the net as time ran out.

Pittsburgh had gone 1-5 in Detroit in the past two final series before pulling this one out at the most clutch time. The Penguins' only other victory at "The Joe" was a triple overtime win in Game 5 last year that kept them alive. Talbot made it possible by scoring the tying goal with 35 seconds left in regulation.

The Penguins are the first team since the 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning to win the Cup after trailing the series 3-2.

Crosby crumpled against the boards after he was hit and seemed to get his left leg caught.

He glided to the bench hunched over and stayed bent at the waist as he was guided to the dressing room 51/2 minutes into the period.

He was limited to two shifts, totaling 2 minutes, 39 seconds of ice time in the frame, but his teammates doubled the lead while he was gone.

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