Image by: Pittsburgh Penguins Twitter
The Pittsburgh Penguins Sunday became the first back-to-back Stanley Cup champions in the salary cap era.
Penguins Captain Sidney Crosby, before winning his second-consecutive Conn Smythe (MVP) Trophy, said they started this season set on bringing the Cup back to Pittsburgh.
“Just to be able to share that with this group…to be able to accomplish it is a great feeling.”
Sidney Crosby is third in NHL history to win the Conn Smythe Trophy in consecutive years (Bernie Parent 1974-1975, Mario Lemieux 1991-1992).
Crosby had 27 points in 23 postseason games this year.
But it’s his teammate, a former Predator, Patric Hornqvist that scored the game-winning goal with 1:35 left in the third.
— NHL (@NHL) June 12, 2017
To solidify the victory, Carl Hagelin then tallied an empty-netter with 13.6 seconds remaining.
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) June 12, 2017
Pens goalie Matt Murray, technically still a rookie, won his second shutout Stanley Cup. He stopped 29 shots.
The Preds’ Pekka Rinne held strong until the final two minutes. He stopped 27 of 28 shots.
The real stars of Game 6 Sunday night, and the postseason in general, were the goaltenders.
But who will many people be talking about? The officials.
Heading tied 0-0 into the third period, just 20 minutes away from a possible Cup win and elimination, a no-goal call in the second period left hockey enthusiasts seething.
Referee Kevin Pollock blew the whistle from behind the net while Murray’s save attempt on a Filip Forsberg shot left an open net rebound for Colton Sissons to tap in. Pollock was apparently the only person of 17,000+ in Bridgestone Arena who didn’t see the loose puck–and he didn’t adjust his position to try.
— SI NHL (@SI_NHL) June 12, 2017
And, the Predators were unable to shake it. They couldn’t turn the tides in their favor. In fact, in the last 123-plus minutes of the postseason, the Preds were unable to score an official goal, a statistic that certainly dug the grave for their 2017 Cup dreams.
The game opened with a fantastic Murray save on a P.K. Subban shot.
— steph (@myregularface) June 12, 2017
From there, the Predators were unable to make a move. The Penguins outshot the Preds by a mere 29-27 and had four penalties to the Preds’ zero. But the team couldn’t capitalize on power plays, even a short 5-on-3. And, they couldn’t get the puck past Murray.
Captain Mike Fisher gave an emotional post-game interview.
“This team never gave up. We believed all the way.”
He remarked how the team wanted to unite the city around the team, which undoubtedly was a success despite the season’s outcome.
— Nashville Tennessee (@NashvilleTenn) June 12, 2017
And, on the other side, the Penguins are the first team to win consecutive championships since the 1997-1998 Detroit Red Wings.
Now, good news for all, less than three months until the 2017-2018 season.