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Gonchar, Malone expected to play in Game 6

by Staff

Knowing the makeup of his veteran blueliner and how much will be on the line Wednesday night, Penguins' coach Michel Therrien expects Sergei Gonchar to be in the lineup for Pittsburgh in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final after Gonchar injured his back in Game 5.
PITTSBURGH -- The final minutes of the second period Monday night were pretty gruesome for the Penguins.

Sergei Gonchar slid hard into the end boards resulting in back spasms that kept him out until the start of the third overtime. A little over a minute later Ryan Malone, who was already looking like a wounded prize-fighter, took a shot to his already broken nose and had to leave the ice with blood gushing from his nostrils like a waterfall.

Both players returned to the marathon game and coach Michel Therrien expects each will be in the lineup for Game 6 Wednesday night here at Mellon Arena (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS< NHL Radio). But he did admit the prognosis is still a little questionable for Malone, who Therrien said was having x-rays done Tuesday.

“He’s going to pass some tests this afternoon so we’re not quite sure yet,” Therrien said. “I spoke to him after the game, and I’ll put it this way, I’ll be really surprised if he’s not playing.”

Therrien all but confirmed that Gonchar will play.

“We’re expecting that he’s going to be able to play (Wednesday,” the coach said. “That’s a good sign.”

-- Dan Rosen

Stepping Up To The Mike – Red Wings coach Mike Babcock admitted Tuesday that he was highly frustrated by the goaltender interference penalties that were called during the overtime sessions in Game 5.

Babcock was particularly upset by the one that was handed to forward Daniel Cleary at the 3:41 mark of double overtime. Cleary drove to the net hard and didn’t have much (if any) time to avoid Pens netminder Marc-Andre Fleury.

Henrik Zetterberg was also hit with the same penalty with 2:35 to play in the first overtime.

“I think it's pretty evident they don't care what I think,” Babcock said. “We talk about scoring more goals in the National Hockey League. We want more goals. No they don't. Don't tell me that. I've never seen anything like that in my whole life.”

-- Brian Compton

Sykora feeling good -– Penguins winner and Game 5 overtime hero Petr Sykora started Monday night’s game on the fourth line. He played only 13 shifts totaling 10:01 of ice time regulation and did not register a single shot on goal.

He still didn’t have a shot on goal after playing another 11 shifts totaling 9:05 in the first two overtime sessions. But with one swing of his stick off a pretty Evgeni Malkin pass from behind the goal line into the right circle Sykora ended his woes by scoring his first goal since Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final.

“Sometimes a goal like that can really get you going, but I didn’t really worry about the scoring,” said Sykora, a veteran in his fourth Stanley Cup Final who has come out on the short end in the last two. “Right now my focus is just to win. I’ve been to the Final and I came up short. I’m just very happy that this goal kind of gave us a chance and gave us another day to live.”

If the Penguins are going to pull off the stunner and come back in this series, they won’t be able to do it without some solid play from Sykora, and especially Malkin. Last night the two struggling but talented forwards may have snapped their slumps on the same play.

“I was confident before, just nothing really was coming to me,” Sykora said. “I felt that Geno (Malkin) had a strong game, too. For us to be successful as a team I think me and Geno have to come up with some offense again. That was a good start last night.”

-- Dan Rosen

Road warriors – Maybe it was fate that the Detroit Red Wings lost Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final at home.

The Wings have clinched all three of their previous playoff series this year on the road. They captured Game 6 of the opening round at Nashville, completed a four-game sweep at Colorado and closed out the Western Conference Finals with a win at Dallas.

In all, the Wings have been on the road for their last six series-clinching victories. The last time they wrapped up a series at home was 2002, when they beat Carolina in Game 5 to win their third Stanley Cup in six years.

-- John Kreiser

Squirting the squid man – Right as Red Wings octopus twirler Al Sobotka started swinging the eight-legged squirmy creature around he got a taste of Marc-Andre Fleury’s water when the Penguins goalie gave him a quick squirt.

“It was an accident. I just missed my mouth by a little bit,” Fleury jokingly said. “I don’t know, it was just at the game he does it to us and after the first two games I thought I’ll give him a little something back. And we won, so it’s good.”

-- Dan Rosen

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– While Marc-Andre Fleury stole the show with 55 saves in Game 5, Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom believes his team can be even better in the offensive end. Detroit out-shot Pittsburgh 13-2 in the first overtime period.

“I think we had some great chances to score,” Lidstrom said. “He did play a real solid game, but I think we can do a better job of creating traffic in front of him and be there for second chances. I think that's how we're eventually going to win -- by continuing to shoot the puck. We had a lot of shots, but when you have traffic, that will make his job a lot more tougher, too.”

-- Brian Compton

Multi-OT woes – Pittsburgh's triple-OT win at Detroit in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final shouldn't have come as a shock in one regard – the road team has dominated overtime in the Final in recent years, and the longer the OT, the more likely the visitors will go home with the win.

Road teams have won the last eight Final games that have gone past the first overtime. The last home team to win a multiple-overtime game was the Montreal Canadiens, who beat Calgary 4-3 on May 19, 1989, when Ryan Walter scored at 38:08 of overtime.

The Wings have won two of their 10 Stanley Cups in overtime – both in Game 7s, and one in multiple OTs. That one came in 1950, when Pete Babando's goal at 28:31 beat the New York Rangers 4-3.

-- John Kreiser

Almost – The Red Wings missed by 34.3 seconds of winning Game 5 after trailing by two goals – something that's been a rarity in this year's Playoffs.

There have been just eight occasions in the postseason in which a team rallied from a two-goal deficit to win the game. It hasn't happened since San Jose overcame a two-goal deficit in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals against Dallas and beat the Stars 3-2 in overtime.

The Wings haven't made up a two-goal deficit to win in this year's Playoffs – partly because they've only been behind by two or more goals once before Monday night. Detroit allowed the first three goals in Game 4 of the opening round against Nashville and lost 3-2.

Pittsburgh is one of two teams in this year's Playoffs that has overtime a deficit of three goals. The Pens spotted the New York Rangers a 3-0 lead in the opener of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series before rallying for a 5-4 win.

-- John Kreiser
Everything We Hoped For – While it’s difficult for the players to appreciate the intensity and the dramatics of this Stanley Cup Final, Red Wings forward Kris Draper said everyone is aware of the entertainment value that the teams have produced through the first five games.

“We've heard a lot of positive things about this series,” Draper said. “You're talking about great hockey players on both sides. We have the best defenseman in the game right now in Nick Lidstrom, and two of the best two-way hockey players in (Henrik) Zetterberg and (Pavel) Datsyuk, and Pittsburgh, with the young stars that they have, (Evgeni) Malkin, (Sidney) Crosby, (Jordan) Staal.
“We said it right from the start, this had the makings of being a great series, and we feel that's exactly what it's going to be. But when you think about it, you know in the Stanley Cup Final it's going to be entertaining. I think this series has been a lot of fun to be a part of.”

-- Brian Compton

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