Penguins repeat as Stanley Cup champions

Penguins repeat as Stanley Cup champions

NASHVILLE — The Pittsburgh Penguins clinched back-to-back championships with a 2-0 win against the Nashville Predators in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final at Bridgestone Arena on Sunday.

Pittsburgh is the first team to repeat since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998. It is the fifth Stanley Cup title for the Penguins, and they have clinched each championship on the road.

Sidney Crosby won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second consecutive season in his third Cup victory. He finished the postseason second behind teammate Evgeni Malkin with 27 points (eight goals, 19 points) in 24 games.

“I think I’m just really happy for this group,” Crosby said. “A good chunk of the guys were returning from last year, so it’s pretty special. We set out to try to go back-to-back. We knew it was going to be pretty difficult, but I think that’s probably where the most joy comes out of is just knowing how difficult it is to go back-to-back and knowing that we overcame all those things. It’s a pretty special group, I’ll say that.”

Patric Hornqvist scored with 1:35 remaining in the third period to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead.

The Penguins acquired Hornqvist in a trade with the Predators for James Neal on July 27, 2014. He said scoring the game-winning goal against his former team made it even more special.

“Yeah, for sure,” Hornqvist said. “This is where I’ve been playing most of my games and to win it and score that goal here, it couldn’t end any better for me.”

Carl Hagelin scored an empty-net goal with 13.6 seconds remaining to give the Penguins a 2-0 lead.

Rookie goaltender Matt Murray, 23, made 27 saves for his second consecutive shutout, fourth in the playoffs in his NHL career. He had 24 saves in a 6-0 win in Game 5 on Thursday.

Colton Sissons appeared to give the Predators a 1-0 lead at 1:07 of the second period, but the goal was disallowed because a whistle was blown.

“Every time we got back to the bench, we felt that next shift was going to be the one that was going to go for us,” Sissons said. “And we kept that all the way through, right up until they got the empty-netter to kind of seal the deal there.”

The Predators had a 5-on-3 power play for 32 seconds in the third period but were unable to score. Nashville was held to three shots on goal during four power plays.

Goal of the game

Hornqvist’s goal came on a missed shot by defenseman Justin Schultz that bounced off the boards and the back of the net. Hornqvist got the rebound and shot it off of Rinne’s back and into the net.

Save of the game

Murray made a save on a breakaway by Sissons in the second period. Sissons got behind the Penguins defense on a line change and tried to beat Murray on the glove side, but he made the save.

Unsung performance of the game

Defenseman Brian Dumoulin had an assist and three blocks, and led Pittsburgh with 26:06 of ice time, including 5:17 shorthanded to help kill all four Nashville power plays.

Highlight of the game

Murray made two saves on Mike Fisher and Neal in the first period to keep the game 0-0. Fisher’s shot went off of Murray’s pads, and Neal got to the rebound by the crease. Murray got enough of his glove on Neal’s shot to direct the puck away from the net.

They said it

“I think this feeling right here. You can’t match this. It’s what it’s all about, and to be able to share that with a group of guys, a lot of them guys that you’ve played a long time with and understand how difficult it is and what you’ve had to go through and that kind of thing, share it with family and friends, that’s what it’s about. You have a small window to play and have a career. I feel fortunate, but I also understand how difficult it is so you want to try to make the best of it.” — Penguins captain Sidney Crosby

“It’s hard to describe. You dream about lifting the Stanley Cup as a young kid, and the dream has happened probably a million times for most of us. Being that close, being two games away and 120 minutes away from lifting the Stanley Cup, it [stinks]. But for us, we did so many things well and this is such a tremendous run for our team, and we have such a young team. I think we gained a ton of experience from this run.” — Predators defenseman P.K. Subban

Need to know

Crosby is the third player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy in back-to-back seasons, joining Mario Lemieux (1991, 1992) and Bernie Parent (1974, 1975). Murray is the fourth goalie to close out a Cup Final with consecutive shutouts, first since Terry Sawchuk in 1952. Hornqvist’s goal was the second latest (18:25) to clinch a Stanley Cup in regulation. Dave Bolland’s is first, at 19:01 for the Chicago Blackhawks in 2013. … Penguins forward Nick Bonino missed his fourth consecutive game because of a lower-body injury. He revealed to the media after the game that he broke his tibia in Game 2. Pittsburgh won 32 percent of the faceoffs in the win. … The Predators were shut out for the final 123:23 of the series. Defenseman Ryan Ellis played and was paired with Roman Josi. Ellis left Game 5 because of an undisclosed injury and did not participate in the optional morning skate Sunday.

What’s next

Season over