The Pittsburgh Penguins have come full circle to capture another Stanley Cup.
Exactly seven years to the day since their last Cup victory, the Penguins hoisted the game’s greatest prize for the fourth time, beating the San Jose Sharks 3-1 in Game 6 at SAP Center on Sunday night.
The Penguins had 12 different scorers in the final, although Conn Smythe Trophy winner and team captain Sidney Crosby never had a goal.
“I wasn’t really thinking about ’09 that much, I was just thinking about how hard it was to get to this point and just trying to enjoy every second of it,” said Crosby. “It’s not easy to get here and having won seven years ago at a young age you probably take it for granted a little bit. You don’t think you do at the time.”
Unheralded defenceman Brian Dumoulin opened the scoring in Game 6 on a power play, later joined on the scoresheet by Kris Letang, who scored the go-ahead goal and eventual game-winner.
Crosby had two assists in the Cup-clinching victory, including the set-up of Letang as well as Patric Hornqvist’s empty-netter.
Matt Murray, meanwhile, responded with a fine 18-save performance.
The unexpected 22-year-old starter for the Penguins this spring matched the NHL record for wins in the post-season by a rookie goaltender (15), also improving to 6-0 in games that followed a loss.
Much like their last Stanley Cup win in 2009, when Dan Bylsma replaced Michel Therrien, the Penguins morphed into a different team after a mid-season coaching change. Pittsburgh was suddenly playing faster, scoring more and controlling the puck more often after Mike Sullivan replaced Mike Johnston in mid-December.
The Penguins have clinched all four of their Cups, including this one, on the road.
Two members of the team come from Saskatchewan. They are Chris Kunitz (Regina) and Derrick Pouliot (Weyburn). It is expected both will be spending a day with the Cup in their hometowns sometime this summer.