EDs: SUBS penultimate graf to change final Penguins goal from Gonchar to Hossa, reflecting official scoring change.
AP Photo PACO127, PCH114
AP Sports Writer
PITTSBURGH (AP) -Finally, the moment the Pittsburgh Penguins waited for throughout the Stanley Cup finals. Evgeni Malkin, one of the NHL's best offensive players during the season, scored an important goal.
Too late, as it turned out. Much too late.
Malkin gave the Penguins a short-lived lift in their series-ending 3-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings in Game 6 on Wednesday night, ending a finals-long shutout by scoring on a power play late in the second period. That made it 2-1 and, for the first time since the opening minutes, it appeared the Penguins had a chance to win and force a decisive Game 7.
They should have known better. Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, Nicklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski wouldn't let it happen, clamping down on the Penguins' young offensive stars to claim their fourth Stanley Cup in 11 seasons.
The Penguins, seemingly the NHL's team of the future, now must wait for their first Cup since the Mario Lemieux days. As usual, a good defense beat a good offense, and these Penguins weren't ready yet to beat a team as deep, skilled and committed to defense as the Red Wings are.
Close, they were. But not close enough.
Before Malkin scored, Mellon Arena grew increasingly silent as the Red Wings opened their 2-0 lead and kept Pittsburgh's stars in check. The fatigued Penguins also appeared to have trouble matching the intensity and desperation they had while coming back to win 3-2 in triple overtime in Game 5, tying it on Max Talbot's goal with only 35 seconds remaining in regulation.
The crowd of 17,132 jammed into sagging Mellon Arena could sense what might happen when the Penguins, for the second time in as many home games, couldn't convert a lengthy 5-on-3 advantage - just as they couldn't in losing the pivotal Game 4 by 2-1 on Saturday night.
This one lasted 1:33 midway through the first period with Detroit up 1-0. While the Penguins had three shots, Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood wasn't especially pressured, just as he wasn't in Game 4.
The Red Wings are much older - they dressed seven players who are 35 or over - and it seemed the 20-something Penguins would have an edge with their young legs. They didn't.
The Penguins go as Sidney Crosby goes and, especially in the first period, he didn't go at all. He didn't get a shot, was only 1-for-9 on faceoffs and seemed to have Zetterberg in front and Lidstrom in back of him whenever he had the puck. Red Wings coach Mike Babcock changed lines on the fly, making sure some of the NHL's best defenders were on the ice with Crosby whenever possible.
Early in the second, Crosby lost a skate blade and flew into the corner, absorbing a hard hit from Brad Stuart while doing so. Crosby barely made it to the bench and didn't go back out for four-plus minutes, though he did get the second assist on Malkin's goal.
But for much of the game, this wasn't the Crosby who was so energetic, so much a force earlier in the series, especially when he scored twice to give Pittsburgh a 3-2 win in Game 3. It wasn't for lack of ice time - Penguins coach Michel Therrien double-shifted Crosby, Malkin and Marian Hossa on an All-Star line in the third period to try to generate some offense.
There was a sliver of hope when Hossa scored on the power play with 1:27 remaining, and the finish was nearly as frantic as Game 5. This time, Crosby threw a backhander at the net in the fading seconds and Hossa, stationed at the side of the net, barely missed putting in the rebound as Osgood made a desperation save as the final horn sounded.
So close to another miracle finish. Pittsburgh couldn't force a Game 7 in Detroit, nor could it avoid the first Stanley Cup presentation in Mellon Arena since the Penguins first became a franchise in 1967. And it wasn't them lifting it.

Top NHL Public Bets

NHL Top Stories

Thumbnail Updated Stanley Cup Odds The NHL Preseason is set to begin in about a month. Here is a look at the latest odds to win the Stanley Cup in 2017.
Thumbnail Datsyuk leaves, Mrazek stays in Detroit After three-time Selke Trophy winner Pavel Datsyuk officially decided to return to Russia, Detroit fans needed a...
Thumbnail Stamkos staying with Tampa The biggest prize in NHL free agency has elected to stay home, as Steven Stamkoshas signed a new deal with the Tampa Bay...
Thumbnail Stanley Cup Game 6 Pick The San Jose Sharks hope to force a Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight...
Thumbnail Stanley Cup Final Game 5 Pick Will the Pittsburgh Penguins close out the Stanley Cup Final tonight when they host the San Jose Sharks in...
More inNHL Articles  

NHL Team Pages