Penguins strike late to repeat as Stanley Cup champs
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[June 12, 2017]
By Frank Pingue
(Reuters) - Patric Hornqvist's late
goal followed by an empty-netter from Carl Hagelin lifted the
Pittsburgh Penguins to a thrilling 2-0 Stanley Cup-clinching victory
over the Nashville Predators on Sunday.
With the victory, the Penguins clinched the best-of-seven
championship 4-2 to win the franchise's fifth Stanley Cup. They also
became the NHL's first repeat champion since Detroit did it 19 years
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who was awarded the Conn Smythe
Trophy as the most valuable player of the playoffs, said his team
had worked hard to keep improving with each game.
"All playoffs long we got better as each series went on," he added.
"We tried to do that this series and I thought we did a good job of
Hornqvist scored the game-winning goal with only 95 seconds left
when he batted a puck that had bounced off the end boards out of mid
air, off the net and off goaltender Pekka Rinne's back and into the
Hagelin iced the game with 14 seconds left when, with Rinne out of
the goal in favor of an extra attacker, he scored into the empty
Penguins goaltender Matt Murray made 27 saves for his second
straight shutout but caught a huge break early in the second period
when the referee lost sight of the puck and mistakenly blew his
whistle to stop play moments before Predators forward Colton Sissons
poked home a rebound.
The referee thought Murray had the puck but it had actually trickled
just behind him and into the crease where Sissons had what should
have been the opening goal.
Sissons had another chance to put his team in front at the midway
mark of the period when Pittsburgh got caught on a bad line change
but he was denied by Murray on the breakaway chance.
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Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) celebrates with the Stanley Cup
after defeating the Nashville Predators in game six of the 2017
Stanley Cup Final at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit:
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh had two close calls in the final minute of
what was the best period yet of the Final series but were denied by
Predators goalie Rinne and hit a post seconds later.
For Nashville, the loss brought an end to a magical playoff run for
the lowest seed in the Western Conference after they posted upset
wins over top-seeded Chicago, division-winning Anaheim and a St.
Louis squad that posted 99 points in the regular season.
"It stings," said Predators defenseman P.K. Subban. "A lot of
emotions, a lot of tears and there should be. Everybody cares and we
obviously wanted to lift the Cup this year but it didn't happen.
"The biggest thing we got to take from this is remember the feeling.
Let it sink in and take it because to get back here that's what's
going to drive us."
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Andrew Both/Peter
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