For the fourth time in franchise history, the Pittsburgh Penguins are Stanley Cup Champions.
The Penguins defeated the San Jose Sharks, 3-1, in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final on Sunday at the Shark Tank.
Goals by defensemen Kris Letang and Brian Dumoulin and forward Patric Hornqvist (empty netter) were enough to beat an extreme, urgent effort from the Sharks and goalie Martin Jones. The Sharks, in their first- ever trip to the finals, were trying to become only the second NHL team since 1938 to rally from a 3-games-to-1 Stanley Cup Final deficit and win the cup.
For the Penguins, it completes a season that saw trainers alter, make critical player personnel accessions and have a rookie goaltender take over for an injured starter.
Matt Murray, that goalie, made 18 saves and went to 6-0 in playoff games after previous game losses.
The first period featured one soft goal and some fantastic scoring chances spoiled by both teams.
The goal, on the power play by Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin, was scored at 8:16 after Dumoulin was tripped into the boards in the attacking zone by the Sharks’ Dainius Zubrus.
The draw was won by the Penguins. It was sent by Justin Schultz to the point. Dumoulin fired, waited through a Melker Karlsson block effort and loaded up a slap shot. Dumoulin’s shot beat Jones cleanly for his second goal of the playoffs.
It was one Jones wanted back. But he was brilliant as he was in Game 5 off the rebound of a Kessel shot, stopping two terrific Phil Kessel chances and a point blank shot by Crosby. On the other end, sound back checking by Chris Kunitz and Schultz thwarted the opportunities. The Penguins had nine shots to the Sharks’ four.
The Sharks made that shot deficit up during the second period in just four minutes, buzzing the Penguins’ zone and getting several shots that were deflected through on Murray. At the 6:27 mark, Logan Couture broke though for his 10th goal of the playoffs.
Brent Burns made a nice play in the neutral zone after passing it around to Couture, corralling it and failing to keep the puck in. Off Murray’s pad and through his five-hole, he snapped the puck on a toe-drag, using Schultz as a screen.
What a next shift for Kris Letang. He faked a shot, skated down the left wing past Joe Thornton and dished a pass to the front of the goal. Sharks defenseman Paul Martin left Jones’s right with his area to help, while Letang curled around the net and planted himself there. Crosby pulled the puck out of the mess, went behind the net himself and fed Letang.
The period was also memorable for what didn’t happen. Namely, a shot by Joe Pavelski that beat Murray … and went right through him to the corner; and additionally a 2-on-1 chance in which Chris Kunitz had an empty net at which to shoot and opted to pass the puck to an unprepared Evgeni Malkin, who was wondering like the rest of us why Kunitz didn’t only knock it home.
The period ended with a 2-1 Penguins lead and a 20-17 shot edge.
But in the end, the Penguins demonstrated too much. It was finished by Hornqvist at 18:58 when he scored an empty netter.