Red Wings hang on to win Stanley Cup

The Penguins almost -- almost! -- pull off another last-minute comeback.

By King Kaufman
Published June 5, 2008 9:15AM (EDT)

Man! They almost did it again.

The Pittsburgh Penguins, who tied the Detroit Red Wings on the road in Game 5 with 34 seconds left and won it in three overtimes, almost pulled off an even more dramatic comeback in Game 6 at home.

They didn't, and the Red Wings spent the next half hour skating around with Lord Stanley's trash can, but wow, zing, that was almost something there.

Down 3-1, Marian Hossa redirected Sergei Gonchar's shot from the right point for a power-play goal with 1:27 left and Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury pulled for an extra skater. Then, as the final seconds ticked off, the Penguins got one last chance. In a mad scramble, Sidney Crosby somehow managed to get a backhander on net, letting it go with a little over a second left.

Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood made the stop with his catching glove but failed to squeeze the puck. It squirted behind him and to his left, with Hossa bearing down! And the net wide open! In a moment that looked more dramatic than it was, Osgood dived and got a piece of the puck with his stick just as Hossa whacked it. The puck slid tantalizingly across the goal mouth as the horn sounded.

Replays showed that time had expired just as Hossa touched the puck so the goal wouldn't have counted even if the puck had gone in the net. The game was over before the puck entered the crease. But in real time it was heart-stopping.

Game 6 didn't have the thrills and chills of the Game 5 marathon, Detroit taking command with an early power-play goal and then a five-on-three penalty kill, but say this for the Penguins: They don't go down easy. Hillary Clinton will concede before they do.

The Red Wings win the Cup four games to two in a series that was a lot like Hossa's last desperation shot. Almost thrilling. If only Pittsburgh had been able to win one of those first two in Detroit. But falling behind 2-0 and 3-1, the Penguins were always fighting too much uphill for the series to quite catch fire.

Almost. Al ... most! But not quite.

King Kaufman

King Kaufman is a senior writer for Salon. You can e-mail him at king at salon dot com. Facebook / Twitter / Tumblr

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