Petr Sykora came into the NHL when he was drafted by the New Jersey Devils 18th overall in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft. Sykora spent 7 seasons in a Devils uniform. Since this is a Penguins blog, I'm not gonna say too much about his time not in a Penguin uniform. Sykora spent time in New Jersey, Anaheim, New York (Rangers), and Edmonton before coming to Pittsburgh. Sykora won a Stanley Cup with the Devils in 2000.
Sykora joined the Penguins in July of 2007 when he signed a 2 year deal. Through 2 seasons in Pittsburgh Sykora played 157 games, scoring 53 goals and 56 assists. For all you +/- lovers out there, he was a +4. As for the playoffs, he played in 27 games, scoring 6 goals, and 4 assists. Sykora only spent 2 season in Pittsburgh, but still managed to be create some great memories for Penguins fans.
The date was December 11, 2008. The Penguins were playing the New York Islanders. To that point, Petr Sykora had scored 2 goals in a game 38 times without recording a hat trick. For those of you wondering, that is an NHL all time record. On that night in Mellon Arena, that all changed. For the first time in his career, as the Penguins were taking a dump in the Islanders mouths (they won that game 9-2), Sykora was finally about to net 3 goals in a game. I remember being at that game, what a moment it was as the hats rained down on the ice. Sykora scored his second goal at about the halfway point in the game. Pens fans knew about Sykora's hat trick curse. So when the Penguins got a power play a few minutes later in the 2nd period with the Penguins leading 6-1, there was only one thing on everyone's mind. Sykora planted himself in front of the net. When Crosby had the puck along the boards, there was only one pass he was looking for.
Unreal pass from Sid
Game 5 of the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals. The Penguins were trailing 3-2 and the Red Wings were only seconds away from hoisting the Stanley Cup on their home ice. Max Talbot would have none of that, as he tied the game with only seconds remaining. Little did we know at the time, that we were about to embark on a journey that would take us through 2 1/2 of the longest overtime periods of hockey of our lives.
At some point during those overtime periods (I believe in was during the second OT) Pierre McGuire says that Sykora had just leaned over to him and said he was going to score. Once again, little did we know what was going to happen later in the game. With 10:39 remaining in the 3rd overtime period the Red Wings Jiri Hudler high sticked Rob Scuderi, cutting him, and getting a 4 minute double minor penalty. This was the Penguins chance, and it didn't take long. As the powerplay began, Sergei Gonchar, who earlier in the game almost died on the ice when he viciously crashed into the boards as he was back checking, stepped back onto the ice (Go to the 1:26 mark of the highlight video to see that...... ungodly save by Fleury on that play too). As Pierre said, it was perfect theater and it was about to get even better. Less than a minute into the power play, Malkin gets the puck and passes it to Sykora who one times it.... Hero.
"That is unbelievable!! He called his shot!!"
Mike Lange feed
Sadly, we all know how Game 6 went. The Pens come up just short as they were inches away from tying the game. The Sykora and the Talbot goals are still absolutely massive, but can you imagine if the Pens ended up completing the comeback and winning the series? Sadly, that's only for our imagination, but my god. Same goes for the Hossa shot as time expired in Game 6. Can you imagine if that final shot goes in the net? I was at that game as well, and if that goes in I'm probably rushing onto the ice naked. Once again, were talking history and sadly that can't be changed.
Full Highlights for Game 5 (1:26 mark to see the Gonchar injury)
Sykora won the Stanley Cup as apart of the Penguins team that won it all the following year. He was a healthy scratch through most of the Penguins run that year playing in only 7 of 24 playoff games. Still, Sykora was a big part of the Penguins success that season, registering 46 points in 76 game during the regular season and more than earning his name to be forever etched on Lord Stanley's Cup.
Sykora would leave for free agency the following season. He would end up signed a tryout deal with the Wild. After making the team, a concussion and on ice struggles would make his run with the Wild a short one as he would end up becoming a free agent when he cleared waivers. He played in Europe for 2 season before making a return to the NHL for one final season in New Jersey scoring 44 points in 82 games and being apart of their run to the Stanley Cup Finals where they came up short against the LA Kings.
As most players from the Penguins teams who made the run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2008 and won the Cup in 2009, Sykora will always have a place in the hearts of Penguins fans. After years of terrible hockey, those teams reminded Pittsburgh what hockey was all about. Sykora will without a doubt be remembered for his part in what is probably one of the greatest games in Penguins history, Game 5 of the 2008 Finals. Not much else to say about Petr Gun, see you tomorrow for 16 (hopefully).
One of the best photoshops of all time from The Pens Blog