Pens keep hopes alive

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:57 AM ET

PITTSBURGH -- Jordan Staal had nightmares about watching the Red Wings lift the Stanley Cup last year at Mellon Arena.

Now, he has a chance to live the dream.

The Penguins forward used to pretend he was scoring the winner in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final as a child. Thanks to his fourth goal of the playoffs and Tyler Kennedy's game winner in the third period in a dramatic 2-1 victory, Staal and the Penguins will get a chance to make the dream reality.

The Cup final has come down to a Game 7, winner-take-all, Friday night at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.

"I should have lots of experience. I've been there before," said Staal, who opened the scoring 51 seconds into the second period.

While many thought this rematch might turn out to be a repeat of last year's final when the Red Wings hoisted the Cup after a victory in Game 6 at Mellon Arena, the Cup stayed in storage after Marc-Andre Fleury came up with a huge third-period effort to stave off elimination.

NERVOUS MOMENTS

Though there were nervous moments after Kris Draper scored his first of the post-season at 8:01 of the third -- less than three minutes after Kennedy had given the Penguins a 2-0 lead at 5:35 -- Fleury made a huge stop on Pavel Datsyuk on a breakaway with less than 1:30 left.

"To be alive and to go to that Game 7 is just awesome," said Fleury. "To have a chance to make the save or to win the Cup is just great."

Fleury also had to withstand a scrum in his crease with 13 seconds left when defenceman Rob Scuderi was there to help cover it up.

"You do what you have to do," Scuderi said with a smile.

The Penguins were determined to make their Game 5 debacle -- a 5-0 defeat in Detroit on Saturday -- a distant memory from the drop of the puck last night.

They hit everything in sight and didn't give the Wings much of a chance in the first 40 minutes, outshooting them 24-12 through two periods.

There were no inspirational speeches in the Pittsburgh dressing room before the game. The Penguins knew what they faced. They'd been here before and the only option was to put everything on the line to make sure they didn't go down without a fight.

"We knew the situation that we were in. We knew we had to win. We knew we didn't have any chance (to lose)," said Scuderi. "We were able to get the job done. We've given ourselves a chance. Now, we've got to go there and we've got a chance to win the Stanley Cup."

Captain Sidney Crosby said this was a team effort.

"We've proven we're a true team. Times like this, when there's not many chances, you're relying on the guy next to you to help you have success," said Crosby. "It was a tight game. That's what you expect every game in the playoffs. We don't expect Game 7 to be any different.

"It's a game of execution. Both teams worked hard and waited for their chances. We'll take that and we'll go forward. We've just got to be prepared for the challenge."

The Wings pressed hard early, but they wouldn't have been in the position for victory without Chris Osgood. He made 23 stops in the first two periods alone and had 29 in total.

"(Osgood) was really good early. He had to be," said Red Wings coach Mike Babcock. "In the end, Fleury probably ends up being a story for them with the way it went in the third. But both goaltenders gave their team a chance to win."


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