I should have gone to bed by midnight last night. I'd gone to bed late on Sunday night and suffered for it all day Monday. By the time I left work, I was exhausted and wanted nothing more than to eat a quick dinner, watch Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final between Detroit and Pittsburgh, and go to bed. However, the hockey gods had something else in mind last night.
After the 1st period, I was cautiously optimistic that the Penguins could hold on to their lead. They haven't looked as good in the Finals as they did cruising through the Eastern Conference playoffs, but last night they owned the 1st period. The Red Wings cut the lead to 2-1 in the 2nd period, but I still had hope that I'd see a game 6 on Wednesday. In the 3rd period, two quick goals by the Wings put them minutes away from winning the Cup on home ice and ending the season for Pittsburgh. I started thinking about the groveling messages I'd have to leave for James and my Deadspin friends from Detroit. Then, with time running out, Max Talbot put a rebound past Chris Osgood and tied the game at 3-3. We're going to OT.
I spent the next two hours trying to stay calm and not panic every time the puck was in the Penguins' zone, or on every shot that Marc-Andre Fleury faced. On each one I saw for a brief second the end of the game. Likewise, when the Penguins managed to get the puck into the Wings' zone, I saw them extending the series on each shot. Also, the combination of being tired and excited had me all kinds of punchy. When the announcers said that Petr Sykora said he'd score the game-winner I thought he played for the Wings. It took me a few minutes to remember he was on my team. And at 12:45 AM, Sykora got a centering pass from Evgeni Malkin and shot the puck past Osgood to win the game. I may have woken up my neighbors with my screaming. It was one of the most exciting hockey games I've ever seen.
Now the series goes back to Pittsburgh for Game 6 on Wednesday night. I know the Red Wings are still favored to win the whole thing, but I'm just glad I get to see at least one more hockey game this season. I think the Penguins are more confident now and will give them another game to remember. And I'm really excited about the future of the Penguins. These young players have grown up tremendously during this playoff run. They have a bright future ahead of them.