The Pittsburgh Penguins are the Stanley Cup champions for the fourth time in franchise history and the first time since 2009.
Brian Dumoulin, Kris Letang and Patric Hornqvist each tallied as the Penguins defeated the Sharks, 3-1, at the SAP Center in San Jose to hoist the greatest trophy in sports on Sunday.
Here are five reasons why Pittsburgh is the Stanley Cup champion.
1) Matt Murray
The Penguins’ rookie goaltender was quite the story this spring, helping the team make its deep run to the Cup. Murray went 15-6 during the playoff run with a 2.08 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage, not letting his first taste of the big stage hinder him. The netminder stopped 18 of the 19 shots he faced in the Game 6 clincher.
The Carl Hagelin, Nick Bonino and Phil Kessel line — known as the HBK unit — had been the driving force for Pittsburgh all playoffs long. Kessel finished tied for third in the NHL with a team-best 10 goals and ranked tied for fourth with 23 points during the postseason. Bonino finished fourth with 14 assists and had 18 points, while Hagelin used his speed all playoffs long to create havoc, finishing 6-10–16 in 24 games.
3) Sidney Crosby
The Penguins Conn Smythe trophy winner may not have been the statistics leader of the club this spring, but he certainly did his part. Crosby had six tallies and 13 helpers for 19 points in 24 games, scoring three times on the man advantage and adding nine power play points. Crosby also won the face-off that led to Pittsburgh’s Game 2 overtime winner and had two assists — including one on the game-winning goal — in Game 6.
4) Sinking Sharks
Pittsburgh was able to shutdown San Jose’s big guns down the stretch. The Sharks entered the series leading the NHL with 3.50 goals-for per game, but only mustered up nine markers through the five games. Joe Pavelski was unusually quiet, while veterans such as Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau also had a hard time finding the twine. A Kris Letang-led defense helped create looks for the Penguins and keep the Sharks off the board.
5) Dazzling Depth
The Penguins got contributions from all over the lineup as nine players finished with double-digit points to close out the playoff run. Rookies such as Conor Sheary (4-6–10) and Bryan Rust (6-3–9) had big moments throughout the postseason. Patrick Hornqvist had nine goals and 13 points and Evgeni Malkin lit the lamp six times and finished with 18 points.
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