Hornqvist's late goal lifts Penguins to second Cup title in row
- Author: Leroy Wright Jun 12, 2017,
Jun 12, 2017, 21:45
Patric Hornqvist scored with 1:35 left and Matt Murray made 27 saves for his second straight shutout as the Penguins became the N-H-L's first team in almost two decades to repeat as champions following a 2-0 win over the Nashville Predators in Game six. Matt Murray held the Predators scoreless through the last 123 minutes of the series, and the only time he was beaten in Game 6 was on a call blown dead because the referees lost sight of the puck. Fellow Swede Carl Hagelin iced this victory with an empty-netter with 14 seconds remaining.
And, unlike the National Basketball Association, three or four players can't carry a team to a title. Sullivan is the first American-born coach to win the Cup not once, but twice.
Ohler said Penguins goalie Matt Murray deserved the playoff MVP - an award that went to Sidney Crosby - but said he was happy with the result regardless.
The Predators proved a resilient bunch that found different ways to get wins, sometimes relying on their stellar goaltending to steal a game, other times it was a stingy defence or simply opportunistic scoring. Pittsburgh also became the first National Hockey League team to earn back-to-back titles in the salary cap era.
Faith Hill became the latest to sing the national anthem with husband, star Tim McGraw, giving her a hug once finished before waving a towel in each hand.
"You never know when you're going to get another opportunity", said Predators goalie Pekka Rinne. No one outside Pittsburgh was rooting for them to win another Cup, the third of the Crosby/Malkin/Kunitz/Letang/Fleury core.
Meanwhile, the next-best odds to win the 2018 Stanley Cup Finals do not belong to the Predators, who were the runner-up in 2017.
"It's going to sting, it's going to hurt for a while", said Nashville defenseman P.K. Subban, who made the Predators a Cup contender when he was added in a stunning trade almost a year ago.
Murray is coming off a 24-save outing in a 6-0 win in Game 5, and extended his shutout streak to 83 minutes and 23 seconds. He scored seven points in six games against the Predators.
He started his career with the Penguins just as Mario Lemieux was wrapping up his Hall of Fame career.
Beside the measurable production, Crosby also provides plenty of leadership as the team's captain.
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.