Patric Hornqvist, who was selected by the Predators with the final pick (230th overall) of the 2005 NHL Draft and played his first six seasons in Nashville, scored with 1:35 remaining in regulation in Game Six to break a scoreless tie and lift the Penguins to a 2-0 win and their second straight Stanley Cup.
The Penguins won their fifth Stanley Cup (also 1991, 1992, 2009 and 2016) – tied for the most by any non-Original Six team (w/ EDM). All of Pittsburgh’s Stanley Cup victories have come on the road – all since 1991, the most in the NHL in that span.
The Penguins, who defeated the Sharks in six games in last year’s Final, became the first team to repeat as Stanley Cup champions since the Red Wings in 1997 and 1998. Prior to Detroit, the last NHL club to repeat was Pittsburgh in 1991 and 1992.
"You know, we set out to try to go back-to-back," said Penguins star Sidney Crosby. "We knew it was going to be difficult, but I think that's probably where the most joy comes out of, is just knowing how difficult it is now to go back-to-back and knowing that we overcame all those things. It's a pretty special group."
At 18:25, Hornqvist became the third player to score a Stanley Cup-clinching goal in the final two minutes of regulation (all on the road).
Hornqvist, who was acquired from the Predators in a draft-day trade on June 27, 2014, totaled 106-110—216 in 363 regular-season games with Nashville from 2008-14. He ranks sixth in franchise history in goals and 15th in points.
Hornqvist wasn't the only hero for the Penguins, as Matt Murray made 27 saves to record his second straight shutout and win his second Stanley Cup in as many NHL seasons.
"Tonight we probably had 25 chances, a lot of them were good chances," said Nashville coach Peter Laviolette. "We hit the post three times and it didn't go for us. He did play well in that. I thought their goaltender was very good, and didn't drop."
No other goaltender in League history has won the Stanley Cup-clinching game in each of his first two seasons. In fact, only one other netminder – the Islanders’ Roland Melanson – captured the trophy in each of his first two NHL campaigns. Melanson did so in his first three seasons (1981, 1982 and 1983), but primarily served as the backup to teammate Billy Smith.
Murray became the fourth goaltender in NHL history to post consecutive shutouts to win the Stanley Cup – and the first to do so for a team other than the Red Wings. Detroit achieved the feat in 1937 (Earl Robertson vs. NYR), 1943 (Johnny Mowers vs. BOS) and 1952 (Terry Sawchuk vs. MTL).
Murray stopped 64 straight shots to close the Stanley Cup Final, yielding his last goal at 13:08 of the second period in Game 4 – a span of 146:26 of time on ice.
Captain Sidney Crosby, who led the Stanley Cup Final with 1-6—7 and ranked second during the entirety of the postseason with 8-19—27 (24 GP), won his second straight Conn Smythe Trophy, awarded to “the most valuable player to his team in the playoffs.” The winner was selected in a vote by a panel of the Professional Hockey Writers Association.
"I would have to believe that with what Sid has been able to accomplish in his career to this point would put him in the company of the all-time greats," said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan. "You know, he's arguably the best player of his generation, and he's a guy that just knows how to win. And so he's done it in all different venues, whether it be the NHL and Stanley Cups to the World Cup to the Olympics. And he's a player that -- and I believe this, what separates him from others is his work ethic and his willingness to do what it takes to be the very best."
Crosby became the sixth multiple winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy since it was first handed out in 1965 and the third to win it in consecutive seasons, joining Philadelphia’s Bernie Parent (1974 and 1975) and Pittsburgh’s Mario Lemieux (1991 and 1992).
Crosby’s past 365 days include a pair of Stanley Cups and Conn Smythe Trophies as well as a World Cup of Hockey championship and MVP. He also captured the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy during the 2016-17 regular season with a League-best 44 goals.
Crosby joins Chicago’s Jonathan Toews (2010, 2013 and 2015) as the only active players to captain their teams to three Stanley Cups.
Mike Sullivan – who also guided Pittsburgh to the championship in 2016 – became the first U.S.-born head coach in the NHL’s 100-year history to win multiple Stanley Cups.
Meanwhile, Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne (27 SV) finished the playoffs with a 9-2 record, 1.40 goals-against average and .951 save percentage on home ice.
In other NHL news . . .
PENGUINS’ WIN LOCKS FIRST ROUND DRAFT ORDER
Pittsburgh’s Stanley Cup win finalized the order of selection for the opening round of the 2017 NHL Draft, which will be held Friday, June 23, at United Center in Chicago:
1. New Jersey Devils
2. Philadelphia Flyers
3. Dallas Stars
4. Colorado Avalanche
5. Vancouver Canucks
6. Vegas Golden Knights
7. Arizona Coyotes
8. Buffalo Sabres
9. Detroit Red Wings
10. Florida Panthers
11. Los Angeles Kings
12. Carolina Hurricanes
13. Winnipeg Jets
14. Tampa Bay Lightning
15. New York Islanders
16. Calgary Flames
17. Toronto Maple Leafs
18. Boston Bruins
19. San Jose Sharks
20. St. Louis Blues
21. New York Rangers
22. Edmonton Oilers
23. Arizona Coyotes (from MIN)
24. Columbus Blue Jackets
25. Montreal Canadiens
26. Chicago Blackhawks
27. St. Louis Blues (from WSH)
28. Ottawa Senators
29. Dallas Stars (from ANA)
30. Nashville Predators
31. Pittsburgh Penguins
SUNDAY’S RESULT (Home Team in Caps)
Pittsburgh 2, NASHVILLE 0 – PIT wins 4-2
By Staff of TheDailySportsHerald.com and news services