Stanley Cup Finals: Game 6I never thought we'd be in this situation (down 3-2) after winning the first two games at home. Worse, Roberto Luongo was totally in our heads, making one spectacular save after another. We were taking the same shots we were scoring on all season, but the shots just aren't going in the net.
I had sort of a dread feeling in the pit of my stomach. I wanted us to win, but more than that, I wanted us to play well and be proud of our effort, and in Game 5, I thought we both played tight and a little scared. And while this is just a video game, all the fun we've had and all the elation we've shared have been entirely real, and I want us to feel good about what we've done.
I told Eli 8.0 the story of how Edmonton lost a chance at the 1986 Stanley Cup (I was watching that game live) because defenseman Steve Smith accidentally bounced a clearing pass off the back of Grant Fuhr and into his own goal. So even Wayne Gretzky didn't win all the time, but he did always play the best that he could to give his team a chance to win.
I also put a little note in front of us that said
"Don't play afraid.
Do your best."
We played "I'll Be Your Man" by The Black Keys as our warm-up song. We were ready.
With that, Game 6 was on.
As soon as the game started, it was clear that Eli 8.0 had stepped up his game. No defensive lapses, no undisciplined puck chasing, no mistakes. Every decision he made in the first period was golden.
That's a lot of mental discipline to ask from an eight-year old.
We couldn't score, though, even though he took some great shots. Vancouver couldn't, either, and the first period ended 0-0.
Second period. I didn't play nearly as well as Eli did, but Luongo still stopped several of my shots with some kind of Canadian sorcery. Marc-André Fleury, much to my relief, has awakened from his coma (he's only an overall 82 in the game, while Luongo is a 94) and is stopping the few shots that he's forced to face.
Eli played another great period in the third. He was all over the ice, making great decisions, putting some wicked shots on goal, being the stopper on defense.
At some point, I realized that this was the best we'd ever played, and even if we lost, I was going to be happy about what we'd done.
Incredibly, regulation ended 0-0.
I thought about the seventh game against the Thrashers, and the sixth and seventh games against the Rangers. Now we were in overtime again, facing elimination, in a scoreless game.
Almost fifty combined shots and no goals.
I always play the first overtime because we alternate periods. This was 4:49 into overtime:
Then the roar of twenty thousand, coming from two.
4:49 PIT Crosby (Letang, Malik)