Every team has two goaltenders available for any given game, but the Pittsburgh Penguins might not have known that they actually had a third puck-stopper in uniform for Game 6 of the 2009 Stanley Cup final last night at Mellon Arena.
Defenseman Rob Scuderi made at least three crucial saves during a goalmouth scramble in the closing seconds, as the Penguins held on for a 2-1 win that prevented the Detroit Red Wings from hoisting the Cup and forced both teams to head to Motown for Game 7 Friday at Joe Louis Arena.
Nicknamed “The Piece” because of a bungled quote he gave earlier in the series, Scuderi not only made the huge stops toward the end of the game but also made a huge play to sweep away a puck that had trickled through goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and was sitting in the paint halfway through the third period. Scuderi is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent July 1, and you could almost see his stock rising as each puck hit his body and didn’t reach the mesh.
Scuderi’s contributions were only a part of the Pens’ elimination-staving effort, as Jordan Staal and the Pittsburgh third line took its game to another level. Staal started the scoring just 51 seconds into the second period. With help from Scuderi, Fleury looked like an All-World netminder, including a big stop on a Dan Cleary breakaway late in the third. There was also the post Henrik Zetterberg hit in the second stanza, which was indicative of the bounces Pittsburgh got en route to forcing Game 7.
The win might have also been Dan Bylsma’s first coaching victory over Mike Babcock, as James Mirtle at From the Rink explains with some cool stats and charts. The biggest number that stands out is Sidney Crosby’s 17:54 of ice time, especially compared to Max Talbot’s 19:47 and Staal’s 19:31. But Bylsma will withstand the criticism now that his team is still alive. Outcoaching Babcock twice in a row, and doing it on the road for Game 7, will be tougher. But if Bylsma and his Pens have proven anything, it’s impossible to count them out.