Penguins Beat Red Wings, 2-1, to Win Stanley Cup

Detroit Coach Mike Babcock can only watch as the Red Wings were denied their fifth Stanley Cup title in 12 years.
Detroit Coach Mike Babcock can only watch as the Red Wings were denied their fifth Stanley Cup title in 12 years. (By Carlos Osorio -- Associated Press)
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By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, June 13, 2009

DETROIT, June 12 -- It was supposed to be another coronation for one of hockey's most successful franchises. Instead, Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals turned into a passing of the torch.

The youthful Pittsburgh Penguins, propelled by Maxime Talbot's two goals and a career-defining save by Marc-André Fleury with two seconds remaining, defeated the defending champion Detroit Red Wings, 2-1, Friday night at Joe Louis Arena to claim the franchise's third championship and first since 1992.

With Sidney Crosby limited to less than 10 minutes of ice time by a left knee injury he suffered when he was hit, Talbot, a role player who scored 12 times in 75 regular season games, notched his seventh and eighth goals of the postseason 8 minutes 54 seconds apart in the second period.

"It's the best day of my life," said Talbot, who finished third on the Penguins in playoff goals behind Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. "But there was more than one hero tonight. [Fleury] was unbelievable, [Malkin] winning the Conn Smythe and everybody who made the little plays. I was just lucky to be in the right place at the right moment."

Malkin, meantime, set up Talbot's first goal and was named the playoff MVP after leading the playoffs with 36 points (14 goals).

One year after losing in six games to the Red Wings in the finals, the Penguins became the fourth team to rebound from a 2-0 series deficit to win the Cup and ended a six-game losing streak for visiting teams in Game 7s in the finals.

The Penguins hoisting the Cup in Detroit's rink -- with a large number of Pittsburgh fans chanting "Let's go, Pens" -- was a fitting conclusion to a series that was replete with plot twists, a story line that thickened when Crosby left after his left knee was "jammed" between Johan Franzen's thigh and the side boards. Crosby returned midway through the third period, but he lasted only one shift.

Despite the pain, Crosby was the first to lift the 35-pound Cup, a trophy the 21-year-old has been under pressure to win given the amount of hype that followed him into the NHL as the No. 1 overall pick in 2005.

"It was a little heavier than I thought," Crosby said. "But it's easy to get up there. This is amazing. It's a really rewarding feeling. We did everything it takes to win."

As Talbot said, he was not the Penguins' only hero. Far from it, in fact.

Fleury silenced his critics with a 23-save performance, the only blemish coming late in the third period when a shot by Detroit defenseman Jonathan Ericsson hit the goalie's arm before deflecting in.

Fleury, though, bounced back when his teammates needed him most. With two seconds standing between the Penguins and the Cup, the 24-year-old made the biggest save of his career after a rebound ricocheted directly to Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom, who had a gaping expanse in which to deposit the puck. But Fleury made a diving save, getting enough of his torso on the puck to keep it out of the net and set off a wild celebration of Penguins behind the Pittsburgh net.

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