The Pittsburgh Penguins are once again Stanley Cup champions.
The Penguins beat the Nashville Predators 2-0 last night, winning the championship series 4-2. It’s Pittsburgh’s fifth cup and second third in the last eight years.
Midway through the second period, Colton Sissions appeared to most in attendance (and watching on TV) to have opened the scoring, but the referee had already blown the whistle as he had lost sight of the puck. Video replay clearly showed that the puck was loose behind Penguins netminder Matt Murray, but the whistle had been blown so there was no goal on the ice.
The game remained extremely close throughout the third period and almost went into overtime. Former Nashville forward Patric Hornqvist scored from behind the net, bouncing the puck of the back of Pekka Rinne, to put Pittsburgh ahead with 1:35 left in regulation. Hornqvist, the last pick in the 2005 NHL draft, was traded from the Predators to the Penguins with Nick Spaling for James Neal back in June 2014.
Carl Hagelin scored his second of the playoffs into the empty net with 14 seconds remaining in regulation to keep Pittsburgh on the throne of the hockey world.
Captain Sidney Crosby was awarded the Conn Smythe trophy for playoff MVP for the second year in a row. The Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup cap off an impressive (to say the least) calendar year for Crosby, who from June 2016 to June 2017 won two Stanley Cups, two Conn Smythe awards, a Rocket Richard trophy (NHL leading goal scorer) a World Cup championship, World Cup MVP, and World Cup leading scorer in addition to being selected to his sixth all-star game (though this was only the second one he played in).
The Penguins have now won back-to-back Stanley Cup championships, the first time it’s been done in the salary cap era of the NHL. It’s also the first time that it’s been done in almost 20 years, as the last team to achieve the feat was the Detroit Red Wings. The Wings won the cup in 1997 and 1998, under legendary head coach Scotty Bowman and Hall of Fame captain Steve Yzerman.
Now that the playoffs are all wrapped up, all eyes in the hockey world are now on Las Vegas. The expansion draft for the Vegas Golden Knights will take place June 18th-19th, with the announcement of the selections being made at the NHL Awards (which take place at the new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas).
The regular NHL draft is set to take place on June 23rd at the United Centre in Chicago, with the Winnipeg Jets holding the 13th overall pick.
(Photo courtesy of NHL.com)