— Last season, there were two enduring images of the finals — one of a jubilant Nicklas Lidstrom
, hoisting his fourth Stanley Cup in a silenced Mellon Arena, punctured only by the joyous cries of his teammates. The other of a dejected veteran — head sunk down, sitting against the boards, watching his dream turn into a reality for someone else for the 10th straight season.
That was Marian Hossa last year. This year, he was convinced it would be different, signing a one-year, $7.45 million deal with Detroit in July.
But it yielded the same result — watching the other team parade the Stanley Cup around his home ice after Pittsburgh beat Detroit, 2-1, in Game 7 on Friday night at Joe Louis Arena.
"That's life,” Hossa said. “Sometimes you make choices. I still have a great year in this organization, they're great guys, great people around. It could go both ways. One goal could make a difference. If you score one more, you can celebrate, but if not, they're celebrating. that's life. You just have to move on. It's a great life experience. Sometimes it's a tough pill to swallow."
This year the images were different, just as painful as Hossa’s, but decked in red jerseys. Johan Franzen
taking a knee in the Red Wings' zone. Tomas Holmstrom
halved over the bench, choosing not to look down at the Penguins' celebration. Henrik Zetterberg
patting Hossa on the back as he watched the team he left line up at center ice for the final postseason handshake.
“He was probably feeling the pressure a little bit,” Brad Stuart
said of Hossa. “It's one of the storylines of the series, I guess, the fact we ended up playing them again. Obviously I feel bad for the guy. He's part of our team and feels the same way all of us do."
Last year, Hossa had the shot that rolled through the Red Wings’ crease in the final seconds, only goaltender Chris Osgood knowing it hadn’t crossed the line to tie the game. Hossa had one of the last shots on net for the Wings this year too, but Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, nor destiny, would buckle. Niklas Kronwall
rang the post. Even Lidstrom, staring at an open net with seconds clicking down, couldn’t force a different result.
"Last year we won it,” Henrik Zetterberg
said. “This year we came close."
Nothing was too much to overcome for the Penguins on this night.
A devastating hit by Franzen on Sidney Crosby early in the second period seemed only to encourage the Penguins to fight harder. Franzen nailed Crosby in the knee, riding him along the boards as Crosby faced cringed in pain. The Penguins’ captain couldn’t even stand up straight as he skated straight to the dressing room, carried off by the trainers, as the fans cheered. He only returned for one shift in the final period, a period where the Penguins didn’t even register a shot until 15:45.
It didn’t matter.
A two-goal effort by Maxime Talbot had already sealed the victory midway through the second. With six minutes left in the third, Jonathan Ericsson
sent a slapshot high over Fleury's glove. In a millisecond, the arena erupted — a roaring sigh of a relief as its team fought back to cut the score in half.
That would be the last stand. There was no comeback, no repeat championship. Another terrific season, but no ultimate reward. No relief for a city that had lost so much since the Lidstrom hoisted the Stanley Cup a year ago.
"It's difficult to win," Osgood said."People take it for granted."