Last night's triple overtime game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Detroit Red Wings may have been one of the greatest single games in any sport I have ever witnessed. Forget for a moment that it was the Stanley Cup Finals, or that the Penguins entire season was on the line, or that the game had moved into early Tuesday morning on the East Coast.
The fact that there was a player (Ryan Malone, Penguins Forward) that broke his nose for the second time in the SERIES and kept playing is reason enough to believe that was one of the greatest games ever played. If that was a baseball player we wouldn't see that player till Labor Day. On top of that one of the other Penguins players, defenseman Sergei Gonchar, had to leave the game in the end of the third period with an "upper body injury". Gonchar stayed in the locker room for the first and second overtimes, yet got it together enough to get healthy for the third overtime and was on the ice for the game-winning goal.
What makes the game even more amazing then the stakes they were playing for was the flow of the game. The Penguins were up 2-0 and had the Wings on the ropes. Detroit puts 3 goals on the board and are less than a minute from parading the Stanley Cup around the ice, and having Detroit burn to the ground, and Pittsburgh manages to sneak one in with :35 seconds to go. Then you get to overtime and there are no TV timeouts and very few whistles so you have almost three entire periods of uninterrupted play. The two teams were absolutely giving everything they had. On top of those storylines you have a player on the Penguins bench call his shot by saying he was going to score the game-winning goal and sure enough Petr Sykora buries the puck in the net. The entire game was like you were watching a movie but it was live and actually happening.
Last night is why I love sports. You never know what you are going to get when you walk into a stadium or arena or turn on the game on your TV. Any given night something very special can happen. I am no hockey historian but last night at Joe Louis Arena may have been the greatest single hockey game ever played.
All of this sets up Game 6 on Wednesday in Pittsburgh. This will probably be the most watched hockey game in the United States in NHL history. As a hockey fan I can only hope that Game 6 will be half as good as the last game. My other hope is the NHL won't screw up all the great buzz they have been getting from this series. They have a way of shooting themselves in the foot and as a fan of hockey I really hope Gary Bettman and the crew from Toronto don't mess this up somehow.