Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Why Hockey is the Greatest Sport in the World.

What a game last night! If you went to bed, you might have missed one of the best hockey games in the last 20 years.

Penguin goalie Marc-Andre Fleury faced 58 shots and by my estimate at least 6 of his stops should have been goals. I have never seen goaltending like that.

The Pens Ryan Malone took a slap shot to the face – while standing in front of Osgoode to screen the goalie. Hal Gill’s slapper got tipped and Malone had no where to go except the dressing room. He was out in the next period with stitches and stuff shoved up his probably broken nose… and no visor.

Then Gonchar went hard into the boards and left the game with back spasms.

The Penguins lost their 2-0 lead and looked like they were dying on the vine, but that glorious hockey play of pulling your own goalie for an extra skater paid off when they tied the game at 3 with 33 seconds remaining.

What followed were two-and-a-half remarkable overtime periods. No commercial breaks. No timeouts. Just play and play and play until somebody scores. The Red Wings appeared destined to win. They looked like flies on a dead penguin! But Fleury was stopping everything.

Gonchar was not even on the bench for the 5th period, but he re-appeared for the 6th. The Wings took a high sticking penalty – a good call in a fairly officiated game – and Gonchar came back on the ice.

With massive fatigue setting in, the Pens stormed the net. It was busted-face Malone back in front of the Detroit goalie. Broke-back Gonchar on the point. And then Petr Sykora of the Pittsburgh Penguins scored at 9:57 of the third overtime to win it. Game over. Exhaustion.

Speed, skill, endurance, toughness, excitement… it makes watching baseball seem like tooth decay.