Starkey: The Impossible Penguins

By Starkey, Joe | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 13, 2009 | Go to article overview

Starkey: The Impossible Penguins


Starkey, Joe, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


DETROIT -- It's safe to call Pittsburgh the City of Champions again.

It's also safe to call the Penguins' 2-1, Game 7 victory Friday night at Joe Louis Arena one of the great wins in Pittsburgh sports history, alongside bunch of others, including "The Impossible Pirates" beating the mighty New York Yankees in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series.

Marc-Andre Mazeroski, er, Fleury, made a game-ending save that will be featured on hockey highlight reels for centuries to come, lunging to stop future Hall-of-Fame defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom's attempt at an open net just before time expired.

"The best save I ever saw 'Flower' make," said defenseman Brooks Orpik, as players celebrated with their families on the ice while a throng of Penguins fans chanted and cheered, creating a surreal scene.

Meanwhile, inside the Detroit dressing room, one could only imagine how Marian Hossa was taking all this. Has there been a recent sports choke as prominent as Hossa's? He was the guy who told the Penguins they weren't good enough after last season and bolted for Detroit, then disappeared in the Final.

A joke going around last night was that you can't spell Hossa without an 'o' -- as in, zero goals in the series. The guy didn't exactly have a nose for the net, did he? Broadcasters must have grown tired of constantly saying, "Hossa goes wide," as he lugged the puck.

Asked what it was like to shake Hossa's hand afterward, Penguins winger Tyler Kennedy said, "It was great. He didn't really believe in us, or whatever happened, and now he has to stick with it. We're just glad to have the group of guys we have."

The Penguins made Max Talbot's two second-period goals stand up, but not without some seriously tense moments in the third period, as they protected a 2-1 lead for the final 6:07.

Has the clock actually hit 0:00 yet?

"That whole third period, it seemed like the clock was broken, it was clicking so slow," Orpik said.

Few gave The Impossible Penguins much of a chance in Game 7, because they had to beat two opponents: the Red Wings, who never lose at home, and the crushing weight of history.

The past 18 major North American professional sports teams who'd attempted to win a title by winning Game 7 on the road had failed, a streak dating to the 1979 Pirates

Only one other team in NHL history (the 1971 Montreal Canadiens) had lost the first two games of the Final on the road and come back to the win the series. …

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