The forgotten story of the Penguins’ 2009 Stanley Cup-clinching win

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby raises the Stanley Cup, June 12, 2009, at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. (Peter Diana/Post-Gazette)

If you remember one thing about the Penguins’ Game 7 victory over the Detroit Red Wings to claim the Stanley Cup 10 years ago, it’s probably Max Talbot’s clutch performance. His two goals were the difference in a 2-1 game that night at Joe Louis Arena.

If you remember two things, the image of goalie Marc-Andre Fleury’s sprawling save on Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom as time expired is probably seared into your mind.

Penguins teammates jump on goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury after defeating the Red Wings in Detroit in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final, June 12, 2009, in Detroit. (Matt Freed/Post-Gazette)

If you remember three, one is almost certainly Penguin-turned-Red Wing Marian Hossa sipping stone-faced from his water bottle as the team he left in free agency for a better chance to win the Cup celebrated without him on the ice.

Other details have tended to fade into history in the years since, but one of them was certainly among the most impressive elements of the victory at the time: the Penguins played most of the final two periods without their best player and captain, Sidney Crosby.

His Game 7 effectively ended at about the 5:30 mark of the second period, when Detroit’s Johan Franzen crushed him with a check into the boards in the neutral zone.

He put barely any weight on his left leg as he skated off the ice before hobbling to the dressing room with the assistance of the training staff. Not the sight a fan wants to see when their team is nursing a 1-0 lead with the season coming to a climax.

There was no doubt on the Penguins’ bench, though.

“Sid has bailed us out a million times,” veteran winger Bill Guerin, now the team’s assistant general manager, told the Post-Gazette after the game. “It was our time to get the job done for him.

That’s exactly what they did. In fact, Talbot responded with a goal less than five minutes later to push the advantage to 2-0 and give his team some breathing room heading into the second intermission.

Crosby returned to the bench in the third period but his contributions were very limited. He finished Game 7 with 9:59 of ice time, more than just Pascal Dupuis and Miroslav Satan among forwards.

Fortunately, his team didn’t end up needing any more offense. Jonathan Ericsson’s goal at 13:53 was all the Red Wings managed before that wild barrage in the final few minutes, in which Fleury came up huge.

Time expired. The Penguins were champs. And Crosby? Well, let’s just say he looked OK skating that big trophy around the ice.

“It’s everything you dream of. It’s an amazing feeling,” he told the Post-Gazette before declaring himself “100 percent” for the championship parade a few days later.

The Penguins would struggle to deal with injuries to their captain in subsequent seasons. When it mattered most, though, they delivered one of the grittier playoff performances in team history to make him the youngest captain ever to lift the Cup.

10 Comments

  1. Ed Plopa
    6/10/2019
    Reply

    I live in Wichita, ks. My wife and I watched the entire game from about the 70th floor in a hotel in Honolulu. We just arrived. Went straight to the room. Didn’t even order room service. Had 2 bags of m&m’s on us.

    • Steve Wilson
      6/10/2019
      Reply

      Incredible, you were 24 floor above the highest building in Honolulu.

  2. Tim Rekuc
    6/11/2019
    Reply

    My son Brien and I were at Game 7, something we’ll both remember the rest of our lives. I grew up in Detroit as a big Red Wings fan, but I moved our family to Pittsburgh in ‘92. The Red Wings beat the Penguins in 2008, so I really wanted the Penguins to win in 2009. My daughter Mary and son Brien were also with me at Game 1 in Detroit. We were being heckled by a Wings fan most of the night. Brien was wearing a Max Talbot jersey, and this guy kept shouting at him who’s Max Talbot?! He eventually tried to pick a fight with me, and called Security saying I was the culprit. The fans around us told Security the real story, and he was escorted out. After Game 7, he sure knows who Max Talbot is. I’d love to meet Max someday and tell him the whole story.

  3. Jason Bjornsson
    6/11/2019
    Reply

    It’s amazing how time flies. I’ll never forget that day. I was visiting my mother, who lives in Orlando. We were at Disney World that day, and I was wearing a Lemieux t-shirt. While at the park, I was razzed all day by WIngs fans. They were so confident the Pens were going to lose badly! We got back to my mom’s place, and watched the game. It was nice to imagine all of those cocky Wings fans eating crow!

  4. Jim Gloeckner
    6/11/2019
    Reply

    I remember game 7 like it was yesterday. I moved from Pittsburgh and have lived in West Michigan since 1990 and remember driving home from work the night of game 7 and listening to a sports talk show on the radio(Bill Simonson’s Huge Show) and he kept saying repeatedly there is no way the Red Wings would lose game 7 at home…..

  5. Michael Pasternak
    6/11/2019
    Reply

    We were in Yellowstone huddled in a rental car listening to Mike Lange’s broadcast on satellite radio since the nearest TV was a two hour drive away. It was a week later before we saw the actual highlights.
    We never thought the season would run that long when we planned that vacation, but it was a great memory.

  6. Stephen Mazzella
    6/12/2019
    Reply

    How can it be a forgotten story if it in the highlight video for that year

  7. Octopi
    6/12/2019
    Reply

    I’ll tell you what I remember. SIX MEN ON THE ICE for Pittsburgh for 20 plus seconds resulting in no penalty!

  8. Kneckbone
    6/12/2019
    Reply

    Their was an imposter who came out onto the ice as team connected (Family of a player etc.) and posed for pictures all over the place on the ice and in the dressing room guy is drinking beer and champagne smoking cigars hanging with the players and execs before somebody finally caught on and he was removed by security, Too funny!!

  9. Bob
    6/14/2019
    Reply

    My son and I were in Beijing, China, where it was Saturday morning. We were in an Irish bar, which was probably the only bar that was open at 8 am in a city with over 20 million people. The room had less than 10 tables but was packed with 80-90 people. Two thirds of them wore the red wings’ jersey, while the other third wore the Black and gold Steelers and Penguins jerseys. The waiter couldn’t serve anyone since nobody could walk in the room. People just grab the beers out of the fridge and passed them around, then threw money on the counter. There was only one 40” tv linked to a sling box which transmitted signals from a Canadian tv station. The rest was history.

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