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Penguins hurt, but not done

by Michael Caples / Detroit Red Wings
PITTSBURGH -- The Penguins will take the ice in tonight’s Game 6 with a few more bumps and bruises than they did a game ago.

Forward Ryan Malone and defenseman Sergei Gonchar -- key players for the Penguins’ playoff run -- were injured during Monday’s three-overtime marathon. Malone took a slap shot from teammate Hal Gill in the face, breaking his nose (for the second time in these playoffs), and Gonchar is suffering from back spasms after crashing head-first into the end boards.

Malone returned for the start of the third period, while Gonchar courageously returned during overtime to help set up Petr Sykora’s game-winning goal.

Both skaters were on the ice at this morning pre-game skate, and are expected to dress tonight at Mellon Arena.

“I’m all good to go,” Malone said, “so we’re excited and looking forward to tonight, make sure we’re focused here, we have a tough task ahead of us, but it’s going to be fun so we’re looking forward to it.”

Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien said that his two injured stars knew what was at stake on Monday.

“They showed a lot of character, there's no doubt about that,” Therrien said. “And they see the prize. There's a lot of sacrifice. It's nice to get the reward, and they deserve it.”

Pens captain Sidney Crosby said that his two teammates taking the ice for the last game in Pittsburgh shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.

“Every guy on our team is willing to do whatever it takes to win, play through what it takes,” Crosby said. “Unless they're physically not able to go out there and do what they can, they're going to be out there. So that's just part of the playoffs, and you play through injuries.”

After the fifth longest Stanley Cup finals game in NHL history, Malone said that he was actually fortunate that his nose had been broken earlier in the series by Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall. Prior to Game 6, Malone said he could have came out of his injury a whole lot worse.

“It could have been a lot worse,” Malone said. “I mean I’m definitely thankful. A broken nose, a swollen lip and some chipped teeth are a pretty good scenario for a puck in the face I thought.

“I look at it as you never know when you’re going to be back in the Stanley Cup finals, so this is it, and you gotta make sure you’re doing whatever you can to help out.”
Center Max Talbot said that seeing some of the team leaders playing through injuries inspires the rest of the players in the Penguins’ locker room.

“Being banged up doesn’t mean much to me, I don’t think a face like that’s going to slow you down for Malone,” Talbot said. “It’s the Stanley Cup finals, you gotta do what it takes, I think it’s just motivation for all of us, that we gotta battle through this.”

Malone said that his facial injury comes with the territory of playing in front of the opposition’s net.

“I do get drilled a lot,” he said. “When you really break it down, you’re standing in front of the net, that’s my job, and tonight again on the power play I’ll be right back there. It’s part of the game, sometimes it bounces that way, you just gotta deal with it.”

The grinding left winger was feeling good enough after practice to even throw a friendly insult to teammate Ryan Whitney.

“I still know that I look better than Whiter,” Malone said. “My ears are at least not swollen, so that’s a good thing.”

THE HOME-FRONT: Red Wings defenseman Brad Stuart, who leads Detroit with five points in the Stanley Cup finals, said that it’s been tough to be away from his family during the playoff run. Wife Melissa and newborn son Logan Michael have stayed in Los Angeles since Stuart was traded from the Kings.

“I saw them yesterday, they came in for Game 5, they went back yesterday, but it’s been tough, there’s no doubt about that,” he said. “But if we can get one more win, it’ll make it all worth it.”

Stuart has been rushing out to Los Angeles whenever the Red Wings have downtime to see his family.

“Obviously my wife has been doing everything, and she gets all the credit,” he said. “If anything, I feel guilty.”

When asked if Stuart would try to sneak his wife’s name onto Lord Stanley, Stuart responded with, “yeah, I think I should, I should put it right on top.”

Left wing Kirk Maltby said that while his wife and daughter are flying in for Game 6, not nearly as many family will be present in Pittsburgh.

“Yeah, I’ve got a couple coming in,” Maltby said. “Not like last game, which I think is a good thing for everyone involved. I think we don’t have to worry about as many distractions. We’re on the road and that’s how we have to treat it.”

Maltby said that his parents returned to their home after the Red Wings lost Game 5.

“They were at the last game but they’re back up in Canada,” he said. “My dad, I don’t think he could take another live game so he’s gonna watch it on his TV.”

RATINGS ROARING: Monday’s game drew the highest ratings for a Game 5 since 2002. The triple-overtime thriller earned a 4.3 overnight rating and an eight share, which are the highest numbers since the Red Wings faced Carolina in the 2002 finals. The rating improved 79 percent from last year’s Game 5 between Anaheim and Ottawa. 

Game 4’s coverage captured the Adults 18-49 category, the first primetime victory for the NHL in seven years.

Babcock said that he is appreciating how the series has helped the game.

“I'm trying to appreciate everything about it,” the Wings coach said. “And what I mean by that is enjoy everything about what's going on and taking it all in. I believe the people in the media, the referees, the coaches, the players, the league, we're all in charge of selling the game. I'm a big believer in that. And the better job we do selling the game, the more of us get to work in it and the better the game is.”

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