The Red Wings failed to close out a series at home — again, this time just 35-seconds away from defeating the Penguins for the Stanley Cup.
Detroit hasn’t clinched a series at home this postseason. Maybe it’s nerves, maybe it’s pressure. Not since 2002, when the Wings beat the Carolina Hurricanes in the clinching Game 5 of the Cup finals, has Hockeytown witnessed the end-of-the-series handshakes.
However, the Red Wings didn’t seem as unhappy as the Joe Louis Arena crowd when the team talked to the media after arriving in Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
“I think the disappointment phase ends about 15 minutes when you're out of the room,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “For me it was when I got home, talked to my wife for a second — she was disappointed too. Like I said, when you get up in the morning, the sun gets up, and so do we and we're up 3 2. Let's play.”
The Wings are not in panic mode. They obviously still have two more chances to win the Cup. And that made getting over Petr Sykora’s goal a little easier.
“Being your first opportunity, you're still in a great situation,” Wings defenseman Brian Rafalski said. “So you don't want to look past that. So it's not that hard to move forward, because you still have an opportunity here.”
Still, being less than a minute away from that silvery prize must have crossed someone’s mind? The Cup was already out of its case, ready to be raised above Nicklas Lidstrom
“It’s nice to be close to it,” Babock said, smiling. “Be nicer to have it.”
After an optional skate, Babcock gave the team some time off during the day, considering the Wings played the equivalent of more than 2 ½ games on Monday night into Tuesday morning. They met after media availability to prep for Game 6.
In 2000, Rafalski played for the New Jersey Devils, who coincidentally lost Game 5 in triple overtime at home to the Dallas Stars before hoisting the Cup on the road in Game 6.
So what’s the key for a Red Wings replay of that?
“It just comes down to determination, refocusing and getting ready to play the next game,” Rafalski said.
Not as easy as it sounds in the unwelcoming confines of Mellon Arena, where Pittsburgh has lost just once — to Detroit in Game 3 — since Feb. 24.
But the Wings have put the almost-Cup win behind them. And they’re back at home — on the road.
“I think being on the road is a great thing,” Babcock said. “We've closed out every series on the road. As far as carry over from (almost winning) that, it's a lesson learned. They're good players. It won't happen again. Sometimes you need to be reminded.”