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DETROIT, Mich. (AP) - Slide over Super Mario and make room on the Stanley Cup for anew batch of Pittsburgh Penguins.
Max Talbot scored two second-period goals, and the Penguinsovercame the loss of captain Sidney Crosby and a whole lot ofhistory to beat the defending champion Detroit Red Wings 2-1 onFriday night in Game 7 and win the Stanley Cup for the thirdtime.
Instead of the Red Wings becoming the NHL's first repeatchampion since they won consecutive titles in 1997 and 1998, thisturned into a Penguins party for the first time since now-teamowner Mario Lemieux captained them to championships in 1991 and'92.
Marc-Andre Fleury was stellar in making 23 saves -- none biggerthan the one he made with one second left as he dived across thecrease and knocked away a shot by Niklas Lidstrom.
"I knew there wasn't much time left," Fleury said. "The reboundwas wide. I just decided to get my body out there and it hit me inthe ribs so it was good."
He erased the memories of a 5-0 loss in Game 5 at Joe LouisArena that put the Penguins on the brink of elimination. Pittsburghreturned home and gutted out a 2-1 win, behind Fleury's 25 saves,on Tuesday that forced a seventh game in Detroit.
Fleury's last save started a wild scene in the crease thatculminated in the awarding of the Cup. Crosby took it from NHLcommissioner Gary Bettman and skated a half lap to center icebefore handing it off to Bill Guerin, who joined the team at thetrade deadline and became a champion for the first time since 1995with New Jersey.
Lemieux, the No. 1 pick in the 1984 draft by Pittsburgh,celebrated on the ice with Crosby -- the phenom who has been livingin the owner's house since joining the team.
The Penguins turned the tables on the Red Wings and captured theCup on enemy ice, just as Detroit did in Pittsburgh last year. ThePenguins are the first to win the title the year after losing inthe finals since Edmonton did it 25 years against the New YorkIslanders -- the last finals rematch before this one.
Evgeni Malkin, who led the playoffs with 36 points, earned theonn Smythe Trophy as the postseason MVP. He assisted on Talbot'sfirst goal.
Crosby, just four years after being the No. 1 selection in thedraft, became the youngest captain of a champion at 21 years old.He played just one shift after leaving the ice during the secondperiod after taking a hard hit along the boards from JohanFranzen.
"It's unbelievable. It's the stuff you dream of as a kid. It'sreality now," Crosby said. "We worked so hard. It's amazing to seehow far we've come, and couldn't feel any better."
Jonathan Ericsson made it tense when he cut the Red Wings'deficit to 2-1 with 6:07 remaining. His shot from inside the blueline sailed past Fleury's glove and sent the fans into afrenzy.
Niklas Kronwall nearly tied it with 2:14 left, but his drivesmacked the crossbar flush and caromed out of danger. The Red Wingspressed further in the Penguins end after goalie Chris Osgood waspulled, but the puck ended up behind the net as time ran out.
Pittsburgh had gone 1-5 in Detroit in the past two final seriesbefore pulling this one out at the most clutch time. The Penguins'only other victory at "The Joe" was a triple overtime win in Game 5last year that kept them alive. Talbot made it possible by scoringthe tying goal with 35 seconds left in regulation.
The Penguins are the first team since the 2004 Tampa BayLightning to win the Cup after trailing the series 3-2 and thefirst to take Game 7 on the road after the home team won the firstsix games since the 1971 Montreal Canadiens beat Chicago.
Crosby crumpled against the boards after he was hit and seemedto get his left leg caught. He glided to the bench hunched over andstayed bent at the waist as he was guided to the dressing room 51/2 minutes into the period.
He was limited to two shifts, totaling 2 minutes, 39 seconds ofice time in the frame, but his teammates doubled the lead while hewas gone. Crosby made it back to the ice midway through the thirdperiod for the one shift.
"I just wanted them to keep doing what they were doing," Crosbysaid of what he told his teammates before the third period. "We dida pretty good job of keeping things away from (Fleury) and he wasdoing a good job of making saves when he needed to."
Uncharacteristic mistakes by the experience-laden Red Wings ledto both Pittsburgh goals.
Malkin, the NHL's leading scorer in the regular season and theplayoffs, forced defenseman Brad Stuart into making a bad pass fromthe right corner. Talbot intercepted the puck and fired it betweenOsgood's pads at 1:13.
The rest of the Penguins stood tall after Crosby left the ice,and Talbot turned a 2-on-1 into a two-goal lead.
"Max came up with some big goals there," Crosby said. "We justwanted to play the same way. It's not easy watching, especiallythis time of year."
Stuart pinched at the right point of the Penguins zone, andChris Kunitz beat Jiri Hudler to a loose puck. Kunitz swept it outand onto the stick of Talbot, who raced up ice with Tyler Kennedyand only Kronwall back for Detroit.
Talbot snapped a wrist shot from the middle of the left circlethat sneaked in under the crossbar to make it 2-0 at 10:07.
Fleury took care of the rest, looking more solid in the Detroitnets than ever before. He wasn't fazed by Red Wings crashing thenet or screening him or any funky bounces off the end boards thattortured him in the earlier games of the series.
Rookie coach Dan Bylsma elected to keep his team home inPittsburgh an extra day during the two-day break between Games 6and 7, giving up a chance to practice in Detroit one more time.
The move paid off, and Bylsma became the second coach to win theStanley Cup with a team he took over midseason. Bylsma helpedrescue the Penguins from a near-playoff miss by leading them to a18-3-4 mark after replacing Michel Therrien on Feb. 15.
Bylsma was on the losing side as a player in 2003 with Anaheimin the last series in which the home team won all seven games. TheMighty Ducks team that lost then was coached by current Red Wingsbench boss Mike Babcock.
The Red Wings were the overwhelming favorite coming in with fourplayers on the verge of their fifth Stanley Cup rings. Detroit hadbeen 11-1 at home in the playoffs.
NOTES: Bylsma is the 14th rookie coach to win the Cup. ... Bothteams stood at the benches and tapped their sticks on the boardswhen Muhammad Ali was shown on the video screen and introduced tothe crowd during a first-period stoppage. ... The last road team towin Game 7 of the championship round in any major league was the1979 Pittsburgh Pirates, who won the World Series in Baltimore.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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