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On This Date in Sports June 4, 2008

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

The Detroit Red Wings win their fourth Stanley Cup Championship in 11 years. The Red Wings a veteran-laden team beat a young up and coming Pittsburgh Penguins team in six games, winning the finale at Mellon Arena 3-2. Henrik Zetterberg scores the Cup-winning goal and leads Detroit with 27 points in the playoffs to win the Conn Smythe Award. It was the 11th Stanley Cup won by the Red Wings.

Coached by Mike Babcock, the Detroit Red Wings continued to ride high among the NHL’s elite, as they won the President’s Trophy as the best team in the regular season with a record of 54-21-7. In the playoffs hoping to avoid the President’s Trophy curse, the Red Wings had to fight off the Nashville Predators in six games. The series could have gone the other way as it was even after four games. In Game 5, the Predators tied the game 1-1 late in regulation at Joe Louis Arena, but Detroit and their veterans did not panic. It took just 1:48 in overtime for the Red Wings to get the win as Johan Franzen scored the game-winner. Facing a familiar rival, the Red Wings dominated the Colorado Avalanche in the second round, sweeping the series in four straight games. In the Western Conference Finals, the Red Wings had some trouble putting the Dallas Stars away, as they lost Game 4 and 5 after winning the first three games. In Game 6, it was all Detroit as they won 4-1 to reach the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Pittsburgh Penguins were the team of the future in the NHL. Just years after they appeared to be leaving the Steel City and battling bankruptcy, the Penguins coached by Michel Therrien won the Atlantic Division with a record of 47-27-8. Helping to guide Pittsburgh were a pair of young stars, Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby who were quickly becoming among the best offensive players in the league. In the playoffs, the Penguins made a big statement in the first round, sweeping the Ottawa Senators who had won the Eastern Conference in 2007. The Penguins were just as strong in the second round, needing just five games to eliminate the New York Rangers. The Penguins also dominated the Eastern Conference Finals, taking just five games to beat the Philadelphia Flyers.

In the Stanley Cup Finals, the team of the present met the team of the future. In Game 1 at Joe Louis Arena, it was the veterans from Detroit handing out a lesson to the young Penguins, winning 4-0. The Red Wings shut down Pittsburgh again in Game 2, winning 3-0. As the series shifted to Pittsburgh’s Mellon Arena, the Penguins finally got on the scoreboard as Sidney Crosby scored twice in a 3-2 win. However, the Red Wings defense continued to smother the Penguins and recorded a 2-1 win in Game 4, to take a commanding 3-1 series lead. Looking to clinch the cup at home, the Red Wings rallied from a 2-0 deficit and led 3-2 late in the third period, when the Penguins tied the game with 35 seconds left on a goal by Maxime Talbot. Looking for the winning goal in overtime, the Red Wings controlled the attack and fired 55 shots on Marc-Andre Fleury, but it was Petr Sykora in triple overtime that gives the Penguins a 4-3 win to extend the series. Looking to once again finish off the Penguins in Game 6, the Red Wings with goals from Brian Rafalski and Valtteri Filppula took a 2-0 lead in the second period. Evgeni Malkin scored to keep Pittsburgh in the game, in the second period, but Detroit continued the attack in the third, taking a 3-1 lead on a goal by Henrik Zetterberg. With time winding down the Penguins got a goal from Marian Hossa but could not get any closer as the Red Wings won 3-2 to capture the Stanley Cup.

The 2008 Stanley Cup Finals would mark the final games for Goalie Dominik Hasek, who shared the duties with Chris Osgood in Detroit. However, was benched most of the playoffs after struggling in the first round. The Penguins and Red Wings would meet again in 2009, this time the Penguins would capture the Stanley Cup, winning a seven-game battle.