Big Lead Sports Bar






Now that people are starting to slowly awaken from their slumbers, it's time to try and decipher what we saw last night/morning. Everyone is going to have their unique angle today, be it depression [Albom], "last laugh" [Cook], or inspiration [Prisuta]. Of course, you could just ditch the Penguins discussion and write your umpteenth column about Mark Madden [Smizik], but instead I'm going with the question of where this game ranks in Pittsburgh sports history?

The way I see it, games are broken into two categories: most memorable games and most important games. A memorable game is a no-hitter, it's watching Mario score five goals five ways, it's a Steeler game played in a snowstorm. It can be in the regular season or the playoffs, and involve a good team or a bad team. An important game is a Stanley Cup-clincher, a Super Bowl victory, or something of great significance to your team's advancing.

Some games fall into both categories, most notably Bill Mazeroski's home run in Game Seven of the 1960 World Series, and for the wrong reasons, Game Seven of the 1992 NLCS (or as you may remember it: FRANCISCO CABRERA). This is the distinction that will be bestowed upon last night's contest.

But ultimately, where will Game Five rank in the pantheon of Pittsburgh sports (and Penguin) lore? Was it the greatest and/or most memorable Penguin game ever? That's up for debate. As far as memories go, multiple-OT or unusually lenghty games tend to stick with you, which will certainly strengthen the case for Game Five. I can tell you where I was for the "Petr Nedved Game" and the "Keith Primeau Game" all these years later, and they weren't in the Finals. I even vividly remember the Steelers-Falcons game a few years ago that ended in a tie after a ferocious rally led by Ron Mexico.

And in addition to the debate of what this game meant, we can also debate the great and memorable individual performances of all time based on what went down just a few hours ago. Last night featured 55 saves from Marc-Andre Fleury, a Willis Reed-like moment from Sergei Gonchar, an unreal goal on the brink of extinction from Max Talbot and a truly inspiring effort from the banged-up Ryan Malone. And that's before I even mentioned the words "Petr Sykora" and "Called Shot".

For Sykora, that goal defines his career. It's the moment that means he never has to pay for a meal or a drink in Pittsburgh for the rest of his life. It's the kind of play that allows a player to make a living by signing photos of that specific moment as long as he can scribble his name on an 8x10 photo. He joins Bill Buckner, Mookie Wilson, Bobby Thomson, Ralph Branca, Don Larsen, and most recently, David Tyree in that unique category.

Yes, any way you slice it, Game Five had it all. Most important, though, was the fact that the Penguins actually, you know...won the game, because there were ample opportunities to add another name to another list: infamous players who took down Pittsburgh teams in the postseason. So to David Volek, Francisco Cabrera, Keith Primeau, and Larry Brown, sorry, but your exclusive club will not be getting any new members anytime soon.

Game 6 will be at 8:08 p.m. tomorrow at Mellon Arena. Our mental scrapbooks have a blank page ready and waiting.


Rege said...

Couldn't have been described any better. Great article

Burgher Jon said...

Forgive me for pointing out the obvious, but just how great that game was depends quite a bit on wether or not it was "The game that turned around the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals" or just the dying rally of a talanted but over matched team.

Anonymous said...

Isn't the difference between a most memorable game and most important game when judging last night's game what happens afterwards? If the Pens lose 6-0 in Game 6, it was memorable. If the Pens win the Cup in 7, it is most important. If we lose the series but it is a start of something great like the Oilers of the 80's then it is most important. If the Crosby-era never brings us another trip to battle for the cup, it is just memorable. Time will tell if this game was a fork in the road between memorable and important.

LeeTunnel said...

Game one of the '92 Stanley Cup Finals and Lemieux's goal with 12 or so seconds left against the extremely hot Chicago Blackhawks, is my vote for the Greatest Pens Game ever. An incredible culmination of an incredible come back in what became a sweep. The six skaters on the ice for that game winning goal were: Lemieux, Francis, Jagr, Stevens, Murphy and Barrasso. What a team. All that said, if the Pens can win two more, this moment moves up to the top spot for Greatest Game in Pens history in my book.

My personal favorite Pens moment is Kasper's OT winner in game seven of the '01 Eastern Conference Semis against Hasek. Kasper's quote after the game, "I own him (Hasek). Not most important, but my favorite.

Most memorable Pens game, December 27, 2000. Mario returns.

Paul Rinkes said...

leetunnel -- that's what I would vote for as well. I distinctly remember the magic after Mario came back that season, and the way Kasper just casually shot that puck -- and his celebration afterward -- will always be near the top of my Pens list of highlights.

Anonymous said...


The importance of last night's games is still TBD. If we win the next two, we'll forever think back to Max Talbot's goal with 34.3 seconds remaining and the Wings preparing to drink from the Cup.

If we lose on WED, well....this was still an incredible game and one of best exhibitions of hockey you could ever see.

Best Pens Game of All Time: Game 1 vs Chicago in '92. Mario's goal with 17 sec left had me speechless.

Most Memorable: Game 4 vs Philly in 1997. Mario's last home game first time around. His breakaway goal at the end of the game is one for all time.

Prediction - Pens win in 7. Detroit had checked out last night, much as they would never admit it. They were 34.3 seconds away from drinking champagne, donning t-shirts, and hoisting the Cup. Very difficult to "put that toothpaste back into the tube."

Reggie Dunlop said...

toothpaste back in the tube. ha. game one against the blackhawks is the best pens game ever. jagr's goal was ridiculous, and then mario took it to another level.

that's pretty bold to say 'pens in 7'. we only recently started scoring goals in detroit. however, i love our chances tomorrow nite. go pens!

Koz said...

Great collection of the articles of reaction. How could I be surprised with Smizik?

Does anyone else laugh out loud every time he mentions Ted Kennedy and refers to him as "Sen. Edward M. Kennedy?"

HotDog_Zanzabar said...

Koz: Smizik is a hack with an ax to grind. Notice how he went out of his way to say how great every other radio personality in Pittsburgh was? I beg to differ with his opinion that the on;y one that stunk in Pittsburgh happens to be the only onethat got good ratings.

As for the Pens game and its' significance. I guess we won't know until we see how they do tomorrow. I do know this, one of the Red Wings (name is slipping me right now) stated that they had no idea how they would've won game 7 against Dallas if it came to it. That tells you a little something about the psyche of these guys. No matter how calm they seem, they worry just like their fans.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe I'm about to type these words, but...


he writes a weekly article about sports media in Pittsburgh. I'll bet that article runs today regardless of last night's outcome.

Old goat that he is, I seriously doubt he feverishly penned that article last night during the game so he could run it today. It was just his weekly column.

Unknown said...

I agree with the other posters in that the outcome of this series will dictate where this game falls in the long line of "greatest Pittsburgh sports moments". Game 1 of the '92 finals was great because of the overwhelming amount of action in a short amount of time...but even had they lost that game it was only one loss. Last night, Pittsburgh's season had 34 seconds left. MAF was just ridiculous in overtime...eventually I resorted to laughing out loud as the Red Wings just could NOT get it past him. If Pittsburgh is somehow able to win the Cup, the only game I can compare to last night was the AFC Divisional against the Colts in '05...which was actually quite similar in a number of regards. Fans ready to celebrate before the game even starts, Pittsburgh jumps out to early two-score advantage, then has to withstand a furious comeback where victory suddenly looks like it is about to vaporize. I really don't know how Detroit is going to recover. They couldn't score even though Pittsburgh was only able to run out 5 defenseman for more than 3 periods of hockey. The cup was about to be in their grasp, then they had it yanked away. Toothpaste back in the tube is a great analogy. Pittsburgh is going to finish this.

godohoky said...

I was there at the game. I am not sure that is the greatest game in penguins history but it is certainly one of the greatest games in NHL history. This game may not have been a stanley cup clinching win, but this game showed me that they can win the cup. It showed me that they want it just as bad if not more than the dead wings. I know most of you were not in the building so you didn't get to see the look in all detroit fans eyes when Talbot scored. They practically had champagne popped. Those champagne drops quickly turned to tear drops when the red light went on behind Osgood. You could tell they had lost faith in their team and more importantly Osgood seemed to lose that luster he had earlier in the series. After the two action full length action packed overtimes, which looked like how the series was predicted to be played, finally the goal was scored. The "series turner" as it will soon be called. Every Red Wings fan was taking about game 7, not 6. They know they are to old to bounce back so quickly to play a stanley cup game and they know the pens have the momentum. Osgood is done. I will not be surprised to see him give up six goals on wednesday and Hasek starts game 7. In which case it will be interesting to see how quickly how quickly shakes off the rust and gets his confidence back. This series has completely turned because of game 5 and whether we win the cup or not, game 5 will still be recognized as one of the greatest games of all time.

Anonymous said...

Great points, godohoky.

I'm sick and tired of hearing that Detroit is the better team. Over the last 12 periods of hockey, we're dead even with them.

For whatever reason, our guys didn't come out of the blocks quickly and sleepwalked through games 1 & 2. Chalk it up to youth, inexperience, whatever. But since the start of Game 3, we're neck and neck with them.

They have a considerable edge in shots and we have a considerable edge in goaltender play. Plus, I think that edge will only increase as I also feel that Osgood's hot streak is about to expire...if it hasn't already.

Reggie Dunlop said...

huh? we were dominated in the last game. they had almost a 2:1 shot advantage. MAF miraculously kept us in the game. don't expect him to do that on a nightly basis.

Vince said...

The penguins *COULD* have dominated. They have had so many "goalie completely out of position it's basically an empty net goal" chances, but for whatever reason they have not capitalized on them. If they can even score on half of these, we could blow Detroit out. If we win game 6, we will win game 7...mark it

Plus, can't you imagine the sports cast "Detroit Redwings were 35 seconds away from the Stanley Cup, and after Max Talbots historic last second tying goal, they never regained the lead"