-- This is what Sidney Crosby
has been waiting for all his life.
Crosby's Pittsburgh Penguins
held off the Detroit Red Wings
2-1 on Tuesday night to win Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, forcing a seventh and deciding game Friday night back in Detroit.
Crosby, who logged 17:54 of ice time on 24 shifts and won 56 percent of his faceoffs, was all smiles at the podium during the post-game news conference while sitting alongside goalie Marc-Andre Fleury
-- the game's first star.
For the fifth time in eight years, the Cup will be decided in a seventh game. With a chance to avenge last year's six-game loss to Detroit two days away, Crosby can't wait.
"It's an unbelievable opportunity," the Penguins' captain said. "You know, we weren't thinking about last year at all. But we found a way to survive, that's what we had to do tonight. And now it's anyone's game and it's going to be a great challenge. They play great at home, but we've got to battle and find a way to pull it off."
The Red Wings are 11-1 at The Joe in the postseason, including three victories against the Penguins by a combined score of 11-2. Still, having an opportunity to play in a Game 7 with everything on the line is a dream come true.
"You play out this scenario in your head hundreds of times," Crosby said. "Like every kid growing up, you play street hockey, you play in the outdoor rinks and you always dream of that opportunity. I've watched Game 7 on television and you dream of making it to the NHL, but playing in a Game 7 is something you dream about. We've got an amazing opportunity here."
"Like every kid growing up, you play street hockey, you play in the outdoor rinks and you always dream of that opportunity. I've watched Game 7 on television and you dream of making it to the NHL, but playing in a Game 7 is something you dream about. We've got an amazing opportunity here." -- Sidney Crosby
The Penguins had the perfect game plan in Game 6. They outshot (31-26) and outhit (35-26) the Wings while generating 11 takeaways, including four by Evgeni Malkin
. They killed a pair of Detroit power plays in the third period, when Fleury was called upon to make 13 of his 25 saves.
It was a huge turnaround from an embarrassing 5-0 loss in Game 5 just three days earlier.
"I think each game is an entity in itself," Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma
said. "We didn't have a good performance in Game 5, and you can attach whatever emotions or thoughts to it that you want. We came out and played a much better game tonight."
Crosby knows he and his teammates must be prepared for the ultimate battle in Game 7.
"We don't expect Game 7 to be any different than any other game in this series," he said. "It's going to be a game of execution. I think it's important just to take that lesson. Both teams were patient (on Tuesday), but also worked hard and battled for their opportunities. When it's tight like it is, you've got to be responsible and wait for your chances."
Contact Mike Morreale at firstname.lastname@example.org