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Penguins beat Predators for 2nd straight Stanley Cup

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Penguins beat Predators for 2nd straight Stanley Cup

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Sidney Crosby is bringing the Stanley Cup back home to Pittsburgh for a second consecutive year. He's bringing another MVP trophy, too.

Patric Hornqvist scored with 1:35 left and Matt Murray made 27 saves for his second straight shutout as the Penguins became the first team in nearly two decades to repeat as champion with a 2-0 win over the Nashville Predators in Game 6 on Sunday night.

The Penguins won their fifth title -- all of them clinched on the road -- to tie the Wayne Gretzky-Mark Messier-era Edmonton Oilers for sixth on the all-time list. The Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and `98 were the last champion to defend their title. The Penguins are the first to do it in the salary-cap era.

"We knew it was going to be tough all year, but we just tried to keep with it," Crosby said. "We had a lot of injuries and things like that. We just kept finding ways. That was really what we did all season, all playoffs. It's great to be able to do it."

Crosby also became just the third player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy in consecutive years as the Stanley Cup MVP to go along with his third championship. He led the Final in scoring with one goal and six assists, including three in a 6-0 win in Game 5 that put the Penguins on the doorstep of another title. Only teammate Evgeni Malkin (28 points) had more than Crosby's 27 this postseason.

"You have a small window to play and have a career," Crosby said. "I feel fortunate, but I also understand how difficult it was so you just want to try to make the best of it."

Hornqvist scored off Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne's left elbow , the former Predator silencing the raucous crowd that had stood for long minutes and flung a few more catfish, too. Nashville challenged for goalie interference, but the goal was upheld. With Pekka Rinne pulled for an extra attacker, Carl Hagelin set off a bench celebration with an empty netter with 13.6 seconds left.

"Obviously, it's going to be the biggest goal I'm ever going to score," Hornqvist said. "That's always going to stand really close to my heart."

All that was left was the celebrating. Crosby took the Cup from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman before handing the trophy off to veteran defenseman Ron Hainsey who passed it to veteran forward Matt Cullen.

Nashville lost for just the first time in regulation on home ice this postseason and this one had some hard luck. Colton Sissons had a goal erased by a whistle 67 seconds into the second period. The Predators went 0 of 4 with the man advantage, including 32 seconds of a 5-on-3 in the third.

"It stings," said defenseman P.K. Subban, brought over in a trade stunner in the offseason and a foil for Crosby all series. "I think the biggest thing we've got to take from this is, remember the feeling. That's what's going to drive us. .... We're going to be back here again next year."

Forget a golden anniversary: The Penguins will cap their 50th season with their names on the most famous silver cup in sports -- again. It is also the third championship for Crosby and a handful of teammates from the 2009 title team, surpassing the two won by the Penguins teams led by current owner Mario Lemieux in the 1990s.

And it's the second championship in 18 months for coach Mike Sullivan, who has yet to lose a playoff series since taking over after Mike Johnston was fired. Sullivan is the first American-born coach to win the Cup not once, but twice.

"It's been an amazing year from the start, trying to repeat," Lemieux said. "A lot of these guys played injured in the playoffs and showed a lot of character. Of course, Sid being the best player in the world again and winning the Conn Smythe. He was our leader and picked up the team when we needed it."

Murray became the first goalie to win not one, but two Stanley Cups as a rookie after being a late-season call up a year ago who didn't play enough games to get that tag removed. That's something neither Patrick Roy, Ken Dryden or Cam Ward ever managed, but the 23-year-old Murray finished this Final shutting out Nashville for the final 146:52. He set a rookie record with two shutouts in the Final.

"What an experience," he said. "It doesn't get any better."

The loss ended the upstart Predators' deepest playoff run in their 19-year history and one that became the talk of the town -- and the league.

Having won just three of 12 playoff series before this year, Nashville opened this postseason by eliminating the top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks in four games. In doing so, the Predators became the first eighth-seeded team to sweep a first-round series since the current playoff format was introduced in 1994. Nashville went through St. Louis and then Anaheim to the Final, where only captain Mike Fisher on the roster had ever played before.

The stingy Predators found Pittsburgh was up to the task, with the Penguins taking the first two games on home ice. Nashville roared back at home to even things up, but the Penguins routed Nashville to set up Game 6.

The Penguins ruined Nashville's big party on the final night of CMA Music Festival, which brought more than 100,000 to downtown Nashville. Country star Luke Bryan serenaded fans from the rooftop of a honky-tonk in a performance that kicked off the television broadcast, and he also sang a four-song set for fans inside and outside the arena an hour before face-off.

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. At least five catfish hit the ice before the face-off.

Then a series that hadn't featured even a single one-goal game went scoreless through the first 58 minutes. The Predators thought they had the first goal of the game, just like they did in Game 1 in Pittsburgh, only to have referee Kevin Pollock wave it off immediately. He had whistled the play dead when he lost sight of the puck with Murray on the ice between him and the puck.

Sissons tapped the puck into the net 67 seconds into the second period behind Murray's back. Officials huddled, but the goal was not allowed.

Murray also stopped Sissons on a breakaway midway through the second and also gloved a shot from Viktor Arvidsson later in the period. The Penguins also killed off 32 seconds of a 5-on-3 at 8:47 of the third after Trevor Daley punched Ryan Ellis with Olli Maatta already in the box for tripping. Murray made a big stop on a shot by Mattias Ekholm followed by a save on Arvidsson.

"We never gave up," Fisher said. "We lost a lot of guys to injuries. Sixteen seed. No one really gave us a chance against anyone and here we are in Game 6. Things didn't go our way, but that happens. That's sport. Like I said, this team never gave up. We believed all the way."

This championship season for the Penguins lacked some of the drama from a year ago, but it was far from a slam dunk. Washington won the President's Trophy for a second straight season and pushed Pittsburgh to seven games in the second round. Ottawa did the same thing, forcing the Penguins to double overtime to clinch the Eastern Conference title.

Crosby, Malkin and others also played in the World Cup of Hockey before the season, making this an even longer year than usual. In the end, the Penguins had more than enough in the tank to bring home another title.

"We've got a collection of guys who understand what it takes to win," Crosby said.

Notes
Lemieux won the Conn Smythe in 1992 and 1992, and Bernie Parent was the first to win the MVP trophy in consecutive years in 1974 and 1975. ... Murray is the first goalie with two shutouts in one Cup Final since Boston's Tim Thomas and Vancouver's Roberto Luongo had two apiece in 2011. ... Nashville finished the series going 0 of 8 on the power play over the final two games. ... Grammy winners Cage the Elephant performed during the second intermission after playing at Bonnaroo on Friday night.

Catching up on Carter Hart in live stream, teammates troll in the comments

Catching up on Carter Hart in live stream, teammates troll in the comments

With the season on hold, many of the Flyers have gone back to their hometowns for the time being, until they receive word about what the next step will be for the NHL.

That gave Carter Hart the chance to check in with NHL Network’s Kevin Weekes on Friday night during an Instagram live. There, they talked about a wide range of things, including hobbies, an ugly suit trip and Hart even had a few teammates crash the chat room.

There’s a lot of extra time on the players’ hands right now, so what has Hart been up to? Mostly playing guitar and a lot of NBA2K.

He plays both electric and acoustic guitar, but it’s still a work in progress.

“I just wanted to get into something a little different,” Hart said. “I thought guitar would be the easiest thing to try and pick up, but it’s pretty hard.” 

And with the mention of the NBA, of course Weekes had to check in and see who Hart had been rooting for leading up to the season on pause. Obviously, many in Canada cheer for the Raptors but now that he’s playing in Philadelphia? 

“Living in Philly now, I've got to cheer for the Sixers,” Hart said.

Smart answer from the 21-year-old. And he certainly nailed the dynamic of the fans that he loves playing in front of. 

“If we’re sucking, they’re going to let us know,” Hart joked. “But if we’re winning, they’re behind us.”

Then a conversation that originally stemmed from pizza turned into Hart breaking down a roast session about him from his teammates. Apparently, the team had an ugly suit trip when it was off to Columbus — something that we’ll definitely need to do more research on — but Hart has only a handful of suits on the regular rotation. 

“I only have three suits,” Hart said. “I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to wear this,’ and I show up to the plane and everyone was like, ‘That’s the suit you wear all of the time.’

“I was like, ‘Wow, what do you want from me? You guys hate it anyways.’” 

Of course, it’s all in good fun … at least we hope. 

And soon enough, his buddies crashed the chat. About 75 percent through the stream, Nolan Patrick joined the party and started to have some fun in the comment section.  It wasn’t long before the captain Claude Giroux tuned in as well, coaching the young goalie of how to get to his end point when talking in an interview. Always looking out for the kiddo. Former teammate Dale Weise even joined the chat party, so naturally him and Patrick were joking around. 



It’s safe to say these guys certainly miss seeing each other daily. Hopefully we’ll get more live streams in the near future. 

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Flyers' Game 3 in 2010 Stanley Cup Final was the Best Game I Ever Saw Live

Flyers' Game 3 in 2010 Stanley Cup Final was the Best Game I Ever Saw Live

In the spring of 1997, Eric Lindros and company were steamrolled. Swept by the Detroit Red Wings for the first of three Stanley Cup titles in six years for the Motor City.

Fast-forward 13 years. The Flyers are back in the Final facing the same fate after losing the first two games in Chicago.

This Flyers team already completed one of the most improbable comebacks the NHL had ever seen. Down 3-0 to the Bruins in the series and then in Game 7, it shocked the world. The odds of this team completing the historic feat twice in the span of a month? Not great. That made Game 3 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final so important. If the Flyers are going to win the Cup, they have to win this game.

The night featured everything you love about playoff hockey. A game associated with the bitterness of winter played on a warm evening in June. The arena maxed out with 20,000 people wearing orange, holding their breath with every scoring chance, every save, then erupting in unison when the goal horn ripped through your eardrums.

Sixty minutes would not be enough. Five minutes into overtime the fans jumped to their feet, releasing a burst of energy that could be felt down Broad Street. It would turn out to be a practice run for the euphoria to come. Replays of the puck behind goaltender Corey Crawford, sliding perfectly along the goal line, confirmed our worst fears. It’s not over.

The swing of emotions is what makes overtime playoff hockey so unique. The suddenness of it all is unmatched. Which is why none of us were expecting, less than one minute later, the building would shake. No need for a review. No need to regain our composure. Claude Giroux had won Game 3.

It was one of those moments when strangers were now family. Section 212 became my new neighborhood. I looked around to take in the moment, seeing smiles from ear to ear and even a few jubilant tears.

One week later, tears of a different kind were shed after Patrick Kane celebrated by himself on the same sheet of ice. Another Final loss jump-started another dynasty with the Blackhawks claiming three Cups in six years. The hurt of that series loss was equaled only by the exhilaration of Game 3 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final. The best game I ever saw live.



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