Sunday, June 11, 2017

Penguins Repeat as Back to Back Stanley Cup Champions

Crosby wins second Conn Smythe; third Stanley Cup

By: Rich Healey

(NASHVILLE, TN) – The Pittsburgh Penguins are the first team to win back to back Stanley Cups in the salary cap era and the first team to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions since the Detroit Red Wings did in 1997 and 1998. The Pens went on to defeat the Nashville Predators 2-0 in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final at Bridgestone Arena Sunday night. 

Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist broke the 0-0 tie late in the third period which would stand as the game winner. The former Predator banked the puck off the back or Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne to take the lead with 1:35 left in regulation.

"It's going to be the biggest goal I’m ever going to score,” Hornqvist said.
Penguins forward Carl Hagelin finished the game off with an empty net goal with 14 seconds left in the third period to close out the game.

The Penguins battled injuries throughout the playoffs and Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan says it was a much different journey to winning the Stanley Cup compared to last years Cup win. 

"This year was a whole different story," Sullivan explained. "It's been a battle and what I love about this group of people is they never look for excuses. It was that next man up mindset and they find ways to win. I couldn't be more proud of these players."

Both teams played a tight, defensive game and each had their chances. The Predators had a 5-on-3 for 32 seconds in the third period their penalty killers were able to fight off. But thanks to a shot from Penguins defenseman Justin Shultz who shot the puck off the end boards and onto Hornqvist's stick was the difference in Game 6.

"We just kept finding ways," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. "That's what we did all season, all playoffs, and it's great to be able to do it." 
"I can't say enough about the character and guts to be able to gut this one out," Penguins forward Matt Cullen said. "What an experience, it doesn't get any better."