The Pittsburgh Penguins were captured their fourth Stanley Cup in team history as they defeated the San Jose Sharks at the SAP Center on Sunday night.
On the seventh anniversary of the last time the Penguins hoisted the Stanley Cup, they were able to defeat the Sharks by a score of 3-1. The victory gave them a 4-2 series win for their fourth Stanley Cup Championship in team history.
Brian Dumoulin opened the scoring for the Penguins, just over eight minutes into the game, on the power play as he fired a shot past Sharks netminder, Martin Jones.
In the second period the Sharks were able to answer as Logan Couture was able to slip one past Penguins rookie goalie, Matt Murray at the 6:27 mark. The Penguins would retake the lead just over a minute later when Kris Letang would be able to put a Sidney Crosby rebound behind Jones for the eventual game winner.
Murray who became the unexpected starter for the Penguins this spring, matched a rookie record for wins in the postseason, with 15. He also improved to a perfect 6-0 in games following a loss. Cam Ward (Carolina Hurricanes, 2006) and Patrick Roy (Montreal Candiens, 1986) each won the Cup with 15 victories, while Ron Hextall (Philadelphia Flyers, 1987) had 15 wins but fell to the Edmonton Oilers.
Just like the last time the Penguins hoisted that famous silver chalice above their heads, they had replaced their bench boss midseason. In 2009, the Dan Bylsma replaced Michael Therrien behind the bench and then went on to defeat the Detroit Red Wings in seven games. This past season Mike Sullivan got the call to replace Mike Johnston, in hopes of turning the club around.
Since 1918, only six Stanley Cup coaches have come on midseason, and guided their squad to the Stanley Cup. Those coaches include; Dick Irvin (Toronto Maple Leafs, 1931-1932), Al MacNeil (Canadiens, 1970-1971), Larry Robinson (New Jersey Devils,1999-2000), Bylsma, Darryl Sutter (Los Angeles Kings, (2011-2012) and Sullivan.
After Sullivan took over behind the bench the Penguins went 33-16-5, while staying near the top of the league in puck possession. Their speed was one of the key factors that helped lead them to their fourth Stanley Cup in five tries.
Even though Crosby did not score much in the Stanley Cup Final, his presence was felt during the series, even accounting for two assists on the Penguins goals in game six, helping win him the Conn Smythe, as the Most Valuable Player during the postseason.
The Sharks in a last ditch effort to try and tie up the game, pulled their goalie for the extra attacker. For most of the third period, though the Sharks were only able to get one shot on Murray up until that point. They finished the period with two.
Jones was able to turn away 24 of the 26 Penguins shots thrown his direction, but unfortunately for him it was in a losing effort, as Murray denied all but one of the Sharks shots.
In all four of the Penguins Stanley Cup victories, they have had to skate around with it in front of the other team’s fans. They have never clinched hockey’s holy grail on home ice. The Sharks were appearing in the first Stanley Cup Final in their 25-year history.