The Pittsburgh Penguins wanted no part of witnessing another Stanley Cup presentation and subsequent Detroit Red Wings celebration in their own building.
So instead of seeing the Red Wings lift the prized trophy over their heads in triumph as they did after a Game 6 victory at Mellon Arena a year ago, the Penguins lifted their game at home Tuesday night to force a seventh and deciding game with a narrow 2-1 victory.
This will be the first time in the Red Wings' incredible 12-season run, in which they have won four Stanley Cups, that they have been stretched to a seventh game.
However, it will not be Detroit head coach Mike Babcock's first critical Game 7 of a Stanley Cup final.
He was running the bench of the 2002-03 Anaheim Ducks when they dropped the seventh game to the New Jersey Devils - and he had a player on his roster named Dan Bylsma.
"The best thing you can tell them is about going out and winning the game: It's not about trying not to lose," said Bylsma, now the coach of the Penguins. "You try to go out there and play your game. Play the way you've played all year long.
"You don't wait back, sit back and wait for a mistake. You know, you don't want to treat the game differently than any other game."
This is only the fifth time in Stanley Cup history that the home team has won each of the first six games of the final series.
The home team went onto win three of those four previous occasions, and with the Red Wings an impressive 11-1 at Joe Louis Arena this postseason, they are hoping to be the fourth.
But not if the Penguins' third line of Jordan Staal, Tyler Kennedy and Matt Cooke, as well as goalie Marc-André Fleury, play as well as they did last night.
The quartet was responsible for making possible what should be a dramatic Game 7 at Joe Louis Arena on Friday.
Fleury rebounded after surrendering five goals on 21 shots in Game 5 and being pulled late in the second period. With the Penguins' top two players, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, struggling to score goals in the series (Malkin has two goals and Crosby only one), the hard-skating trio led by Staal stepped up.
They not only went up against Detroit's top unit of Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom (who replaced Daniel Cleary on that line for most of the game), Staal scored in the second period and Kennedy followed up with a goal early in the third.
Cooke gave his teammates a boost when he crunched Datsyuk with a second-period hit that knocked the helmet off the Detroit superstar.
Staal wound up with more ice time (19 minutes 31 seconds) than Crosby (17:54).
"I think Jordan Staal, with his skating ability and his size, can be a force in the defensive zone and he can be a force with his speed through the neutral zone," Bylsma said. "He can be a force in the offensive zone, too.
"I think we saw him do that numerous times tonight, where he was a force in whatever zone he was in.
"He's a unique combination of skating ability, plus the size, he can bring to the game. He's a young kid and he's just learning what he can do out there. Tonight, he did it in both ends of the rink."
It was the first time that the Penguins won a playoff game without Malkin and Crosby registering a point - a streak 29 games long and dating back to 2007.
The Red Wings were outshot 31-26, but they still had an opportunity to pull out this game, or at least send it into overtime.
They flubbed two power-play opportunities in the third period. Zetterberg hit a post in the second period. Fleury made a wonderful glove save on a Cleary backhand shot on a breakaway with 100 tics left on the clock.
"I thought they were better than us at the start of the game, probably for the first 32 minutes," Babcock said. "They won more races and more battles, had more play, were on top of us more and they kept us to the outside.
"I thought we started to build some momentum at the end of the second and then obviously we had a good third period."Report Typo/Error
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