Sykora won Game 5 of last year's Final, scoring a goal in triple overtime. That extended the series to a Game 6, which the Penguins lost to Detroit at Mellon Arena. And, that isn't the only postseason heroics Sykora has performed during his 13-year career.
But is Sykora's glowing resume enough to get him into the lineup for Tuesday night's Game 6 (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS), the first of what the Penguins hope will be two elimination games? He has not played in more than a month, last appearing in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
"Game-time decision," Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said after the morning skate.
Sykora, who has taken the pre-game warm-up before each Final game, also wasn't tipping his hand when pressed at Tuesday's morning skate.
"You'll have to give those questions to Danny," Sykora told NHL.com. "I'm just going to do the same thing, the same routine and I'll be ready to play."
Sykora, a right wing, is usually ready to play when the weather turns warm. He might just be the offensive spark this team needs after scoring just 10 goals, only four at even strength, in the first five games of this series.
Sykora won the Stanley Cup in 2000 as a member of the New Jersey Devils' top line, scoring 17 points before he was injured in the clinching game against Dallas. In 2003, as a member of the Anaheim Ducks, Sykora scored a goal against Dallas in the fourth overtime of a Western Conference Quarterfinals game, ending the fourth-longest playoff game in NHL history. The Ducks reached the Final that year, losing to New Jersey in seven games.
In fact, this is Sykora's fifth trip to the Final. All told, he has 114 games of Stanley Cup Playoff experience, scoring 32 goals and 69 point. He has nine game-winning goals.
"Petr's NHL skill is he can shoot it in the net," Bylsma said. "That's why he continues to play in this League, and probably will continue to play in this league. When you get 25 goals a year, you have something. When he gets the puck on his stick, he puts it behind the goalie.
"In a limited-role situation, if he were to get the puck on his stick, you would expect him to rip it and have a chance for it to go in. So that's why he would be appealing."
This has not been an easy postseason for the 32-year-old forward. He has been scratched for the past 14 postseason games after going without a goal in his six appearances against Philadelphia and Washington in the first two rounds. This despite the fact that he topped the 20-goal plateau for the 10th-straight season, netting 25 goals in 76 games this regular season.
"Obviously it is difficult," Sykora told NHL.com. "You feel it might be the night you are going to play and you get ready for a game and do your routines and then you don't play. I just try to stay in shape and get in as much skating as possible."
Now, he believes in his heart that he can get into Tuesday's Game 6 and be a difference-maker. The wait, he says, has sharpened his postseason focus even more.
"It keeps you sharp, because last few games I felt like it might be the night," Sykora told NHL.com. "It makes you focus throughout the whole day about the game and getting yourself ready. I'm going to do exactly the same thing tonight."
Author: Shawn P. Roarke | NHL.com Managing Editor