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Penguins bucked trend to win Game 7

by Mike G. Morreale
DETROIT -- It was only a matter of time before the visiting team finally snapped the trend.

After the home team won each of the six games of this Stanley Cup Final between the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins, the Pens certainly picked an opportune time to change it up -- in the seventh and deciding game at the famed Joe Louis Arena.

The Penguins executed the perfect road game by playing responsible in their own end. And when they were granted two golden opportunities, forward Maxime Talbot made the Red Wings pay with a pair of second-period goals en route to a 2-1 victory.

The Wings were looking to tie the 2003 New Jersey Devils' playoff record of 12 wins on home ice. But the Penguins wanted nothing to do with that, snapping Detroit's eight-game winning streak at The Joe in the process.

Prior to Friday's loss, the Wings' only other loss at Joe Louis Arena came in triple overtime, a 4-3 setback to the Anaheim Ducks in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals on May 3. The Penguins, who have never lost a Game 7 on the road in their playoff history (5-0), are only the second team in NHL history to win a seventh game on the road in the Stanley Cup Final after the home team had won the first six games, following the 1971 Montreal Canadiens.

"We knew we would be good at home," Penguins forward Chris Kunitz said. "We liked our matchups. It took us seven games to get here and be able to put a win in but we think we wore on them. We made them go back all the time and we hit them. We made it hard on them and maybe we just wore on them."

Ruslan Fedotenko, who scored twice for the Tampa Bay Lightning during their 2-1 victory over the Calgary Flames in Game 7 of the 2004 Stanley Cup Final, felt his team had an advantage heading into Detroit.

"I felt as though we had an advantage in Game 7, even though we were playing on the road," Fedotenko said. "I felt like they had more pressure. Everybody was talking about both teams winning at home and that the tradition was in their favor. Personally, I thought that was perfect. I liked the fact we were going in there as the underdog and it was our job to make it happen."

Detroit Red Wings Stanley Cup Champs GearDespite the fact Game 7 was played in Detroit, there were certainly quite a few fans that made the trip in from Pittsburgh. In fact, Penguins players were given a nice greeting as their bus rolled into Joe Louis Arena from a very large contingent outside.

"It's always surprising to see the following of fans we have wherever we go," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. "Whether it's in other American buildings or Canadian buildings, we're really lucky. This was the fourth series we had to win on the road in order to finish it off and that's never easy.

"But to always see that little bit of support always helps," he added. "Pittsburgh fans in general have been through a lot. They were through some great years in the 90's when Mario's teams won, but there also were some tough streaks in between, so they've been very loyal."

The Penguins finished 7-6 on the road in the playoffs this spring and were 9-2 at Mellon Arena. When the final buzzer sounded and the gloves were tossed into the air in celebratory fashion by the Penguins players, chants of "Let's go Penguins," resonated throughout the cavernous arena.

"After last year, it was pretty devastating to everybody (losing in Pittsburgh in Game 6), including our fans," Crosby said. "But we found a way to claw our way back and finally finish it off."

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