Stanley Cup: Pittsburgh Penguins top San Jose Sharks for crown

By Ross McKeon, The Sports Xchange
Evgeni Malkin with teammates. (Instagram)
Evgeni Malkin with teammates. (Instagram)

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Speed kills, and it wins a Stanley Cup.

Pittsburgh earned its fourth NHL crown on Sunday with a 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center, a six-game victory accomplished in the manner that was a common thread through the Penguins' postseason run and the Stanley Cup Finals.


Pittsburgh was simply faster than anyone in the NHL, including a Sharks team that did all it could to hang but just didn't have enough to generate offense or prevent the Pens from producing chance after chance in the series.

San Jose's struggles to penetrate were epitomized by managing only one shot on goal during the first 19 minutes of the final period -- a wrist shot by Logan Couture at 3:45.

The Penguins snuffed out the Sharks' final push with goalie Martin Jones pulled to finish with a 27-19 advantage in shots during Game 6, the fifth time in the series they outshot San Jose.


Patric Hornqvist scored into an empty net at 18:58 on an assist from Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who took home the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP.

Just as soon as the Sharks gained the equalizer, the Penguins forged back ahead to take a 2-1 lead into the second intermission.

San Jose was finally rewarded for a hard push to open the middle period when Logan Couture's wrist shot on the move from the edge of the left circle squirreled through Penguins goalie Matt Murray at 6:27.

Sharks defenseman Brent Burns made the play, knocking down a Pittsburgh clear at the line, then instead of dumping the puck made a great lateral entry pass to lead Couture.

Pittsburgh responded on the very next shift -- top line vs. top line -- and Sidney Crosby's great pass found pinching defenseman Kris Letang, who one-timed his third goal past a late-moving Martin Jones to complete a long cycle at 7:46.

San Jose was without the services of top shutdown defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic for 10 minutes of the period. And Jones did his best again to deny Pittsburgh at every turn.


The Penguins scored the only goal of a fast-paced opening period. It marked the fifth time in six games Pittsburgh scored the game's first goal.

The visitors had two of the game's first three shots when Pittsburgh's pinching defenseman Brian Dumoulin drew a tripping penalty from San Jose left winger Dainius Zubrus at 7:50.

And just as the Pens did in Game 4 when Zubrus committed the first penalty, Pittsburgh converted in short order. Dumoulin delayed at the left point, turning Sharks' penalty-killing forward Melker Karlsson around, then fired through the right winger's legs and past the screened Jones at 8:16.

Dumoulin's second goal of the playoffs came 26 seconds into the power play.

NOTES: The Sharks were attempting to become only the sixth team in league history to force a deciding game after trailing 3-1 in the Stanley Cup final series since the current seven-game format was implemented in 1939. ... San Jose LW Tomas Hertl missed his fourth straight game of the Finals with lower-body injury. Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said Hertl is making progress every day. ... The first five games of the series featured one team leading by one goal or the two tied 87 percent of the time. ... Pittsburgh's line of Carl Hagelin-Nick Bonino-Phil Kessel combined for 20 goals and 56 points in the Penguins' first 23 playoff games. ... Sharks G Martin Jones is the first netminder in the post-expansion era to record 40 or more saves multiple times in the Stanley Cup final. ... Pittsburgh's G Matt Murray needed one more win to tie Cam Ward (Carolina, 2006), Ron Hextall (Philadelphia, 1987) and Patrick Roy (Montreal, 1986) with the most -- 15 -- for a rookie goalie in playoff history.


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