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Wings unable to close out series

by Michael Caples / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT -- Clinching at home continues to be a problem for the Red Wings, who failed to wrap up the Stanley Cup at Joe Louis Arena in Game 5 -- the second longest game in Red Wings’ Cup finals history.

Pittsburgh right wing Petr Sykora scored at the 10:03 mark of the third overtime to send the series back to the Steel City for Game 6 on Wednesday at 8 p.m. EDT.

The Red Wings mounted a third period comeback on goals by Pavel Datsyuk and Brian Rafalski, but it wasn’t enough to hold off the Penguins, who forced overtime on Maxime Talbot’s goal with 35-seconds left in regulation.

“You know, we really battled our way back,” said coach Mike Babcock, who’s Wings were behind 2-0 after the first. “We had every opportunity. And we had it twice, one at the red line and one on the half wall. And we didn't get it deep, and we never got it out. In the end, they scored, and we never scored on our chances in overtime. So that's the game.”

The Red Wings have not clinched a playoff series at Joe Louis Arena since they captured the Stanley Cup on home ice in 2002.

“Well, I mean, I thought we, we had every opportunity to win the game, obviously,” Babcock said.  “I thought we were really nervous. We never made a play in the first period, for whatever reason. And whether that's focusing on outcome rather than just process and doing what you always do.”

After losing two straight in Nashville to let the Predators climb back into the opening round, the Wings were not able to clinch until Game 6 on the road. Detroit proceeded to sweep Colorado, which meant another road-clinching game.

With an opportunity to secure a trip to the Stanley Cup finals, the Wings dropped a 2-1 decision in Game 5 to Dallas at JLA in the conference finals. They bounced back, however, and beat the Stars, 4-1, in Game 6.

Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said that his team never underestimated the Penguins.

“No one thought they were out of it,” Kronwall said. “Obviously they battled hard. They played well and (Marc-Andre) Fleury in particular had a good game. And we just have to do better from the start, I think, and hopefully we can execute a little more on our chances.”

The Red Wings out-shot Pittsburgh, 58-32, on Monday, but with Jiri Hudler in the box serving a four-minute high sticking call, Sykora beat goalie Chris Osgood from the top of the right circle. The winger took a feed from Evgeni Malkin, and ripped a shot over Osgood’s left shoulder.

Sykora said that during one of the overtime intermissions, he told his teammates that he was going to score the winner.

“Between the periods, something stupid I said, ‘I'm just going to get one,’ ” Sykora said. “So just don't worry about the game. I'm going to get a goal. And luckily, I got a great pass from (Malkin). I missed it one time before, probably by 20 feet. And it was kind of a lucky play. It hit the ref and went behind the net and (Malkin) got it, made a beautiful pass. I tried to put it upstairs, and the puck went in.”

When asked about what his team showed him in the overtime victory, Pens coach Michel Therrien said it was nothing he hadn’t seen before.

“They didn't have to show me,” he said. “I know my team. I know the character of those guys.”

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