Pittsburgh Penguins vs San Jose Sharks
Exactly seven years to the day of winning their last Stanley Cup, the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the San Jose Sharks 3-1 to win the 2016 Stanley Cup Championship. It is the franchise’s first Stanley Cup victory since 2009 and fourth in the organization’s history (also 1991, 1992).
Sidney Crosby assisted on two goals to lead Pittsburgh to the win at San Jose’s SAP Center in Game 6 of the best-of-seven series. The Penguins won the series 4-2.
For his efforts (6 goals, 13 assists, 19 points in 24 games) Crosby was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the playoffs. Three of his goals were game-winning goals. Nine of his points were earned on the power play.
“It’s not easy to get here and having won seven years ago at a young age (21), you probably take it for granted a little bit,” Crosby said after hoisting the Cup. “You don’t think you do at the time but, it’s not easy to get to this point. I think I’ll just try to enjoy it as best I can.”
“We knew once you got into the playoffs anything could happen and we were playing good at the right time. We had to go through some really good teams. Every team we played. New York (Rangers) was playing good down the stretch. Washington, you know, obviously (a) top team. Tampa had us on the brink of elimination and we found a way to get through that and, obviously, San Jose with the way they play, they’re physical, they’re fast. (San Jose goaltender Martin) Jones was unbelievable through the whole series. I thought we had a lot of fight and we found a way (to win).”
The Penguins dominated the first period putting nine shots on Jones but he turned aside all but one Penguins shot.
Pittsburgh defenseman Brian Dumoulin opened the scoring 8:16 into the period with a power play goal. The defender faked a slap shot from the point allowing for a Sharks’ player, who was attempting to block the shot, move out of Dumoulin’s shooting lane. The Pittsburgh defender’s shot beat Jones between his blocker and body. Justin Schultz and Chris Kunitz assisted on the lamplighter.
Penguins goaltender Matt Murray stopped all four shots directed at him and the period ended with his club holding a 1-0 lead.
The playoff’s leading point scorer, Logan Couture, tied the game at 1-1 for San Jose with his 10th goal of the postseason 6:27 into the second period. Brent Burns intercepted a Penguins clearing attempt outside the Pittsburgh blue line, carried it to his right before passing it back across the blue line to Couture. Couture skated the puck into the Penguins zone, cut toward the middle and unleashed a partially screened wrist shot from the faceoff circle that beat Murray through the five-hole.
It did not take long for Penguins defenseman Kris Letang to respond with his third goal of the playoffs. He gave his team a 2-1 lead just 1:19 after the Couture goal.
The play began when Conor Sheary put a pass onto Letang’s stick at the point. Letang used his elite skating ability to employ a spin-a-rama toward the boards to get away from a Sharks checker. After evading the check, He skated toward the net, used a backhand toe drag to protect the puck from a second Sharks player then skated it to the side of the net where he tried to pass it in front to Patric Hornqvist but it was blocked and went back to Letang. After making that pass, Letang continued to the other side of the net. Crosby gained control of the puck, moved behind the net and dished it off to Letang, who one-timed a snap shot off of Jones’ blocker and into the net. The goal would go on to be the Stanley Cup-winning goal.
The third period was all Pittsburgh as they totally shut down San Jose outshooting the Sharks 7-2 and it was Hornqvist who put the seal on the Penguins’ championship win with an empty net goal after Crosby blocked a San Jose shot attempt in the Pittsburgh zone. After blocking the shot, Crosby controlled the puck and moved it to a breaking Hornqvist. Hornqvist skated through the neutral zone and put a shot into the net from just inside the Sharks’ blue line. 1:02 remained in the third period and, ultimately, in the season.
Stat of the Night:
Teams that take a 3-1 lead in the Stanley Cup Final improved to 32-1 since the series became best-of-seven in 1939.
Pittsburgh finished the year with a 51-2 record when leading after two periods in regular season and playoff games.
The Penguins are the sixth team in the past nine years to win the Stanley Cup on the road.
Pittsburgh is the second team to win four Stanley Cups since 1991. The other team to do so is the Detroit Red Wings (1997, 1998, 2002, 2008).
Five members of the Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 2009: Chris Kunitz, Sidney Crosby, Marc-Andre Fleury, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang.
The 2016 Stanley Cup win was the third of Chris Kunitz’s career (also won in 2009 with Pittsburgh and 2007 with Anaheim).
Matt Cullen won the second Stanley Cup of his career. His first was won with the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes.
Sidney Crosby became the 10th player in NHL history – and third Penguin – to win the Conn Smythe Trophy and the Hart Memorial Trophy.
Mike Sullivan, who replaced Mike Johnston behind the Pittsburgh bench Dec. 12, became the sixth head coach in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup after taking over at midseason.
Kris Letang became the third consecutive defenseman to score the Stanley Cup-clinching goal (also Duncan Keith for Chicago in 2015, Alec Martinez for Los Angeles in 2014).
Kris Letang led Pittsburgh with five points in the Stanley Cup Final.
Kris Letang either scored or assisted on each game-winning goal in the Stanley Cup Final. Other players to do so: Milt Schmidt (Boston, 1941), Jean Beliveau (Montreal, 1965), Wayne Gretzky (Edmonton, 1987).
Penguins Matt Murray earned his 15th win of the Stanley Cup Playoffs to tie the NHL rookie record for a single postseason (Patrick Roy, 1986; Ron Hextall, 1987; Cam Ward, 2006).
Logan Couture finished the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs with a league-leading 30 points (10 goals, 20 assists).
Follow ESPN New Hampshire’s NHL Writer, Shawn Hutcheon, on Twitter at @ShawnHutcheon.