The San Jose Sharks tied Game 6 midway through the second period, but Pittsburgh's Kris Letang scored 1:19 later to power the Penguins to a 3-1 win and the franchise's fourth Stanley Cup – exactly seven years to the day when they last captured the trophy in 2009.
"We had to go through some really good teams," said Penguins star Sidney Crosby. "Every team we played. New York was playing good down the stretch. Washington obviously, top team. Tampa had us on the brink of elimination. Then obviously San Jose, with the way they play, they're physical, fast. Jones was unbelievable through the whole series. I thought we had a lot of fight. We found a way."
The Penguins became the ninth team in NHL history to capture four or more Stanley Cups (also 1991, 1992 and 2009), and the sixth team in the past nine years to win the Stanley Cup on the road.
Letang factored on all four of Pittsburgh’s game-winning goals during the series, picking up assists on the three prior such tallies. He became the fourth player in NHL history to factor on all four of his team’s game-winning goals during the Stanley Cup Final, joining Milt Schmidt (w/ BOS in 1941), Jean Beliveau (w/ MTL in 1965) and Wayne Gretzky (w/ EDM in 1987).
"They dictated the play," said Sharks coach Peter DeBoer. "They started quicker than us. That's the reason they're holding the Cup."
Letang became the third straight defenseman to score the Stanley Cup-clinching goal – Duncan Keith did so for the Blackhawks in 2015, Alec Martinez did so for the Kings (in 2OT) in 2014.
Matt Murray (18 SV) earned his 15th win of the postseason, tying an NHL rookie record in one playoff year. Murray improved to 6-0 – with a 1.63 goals-against average and .936 save percentage – following a loss this postseason.
Chris Kunitz became the ninth active player to win three Stanley Cups, also doing so with the Ducks in 2007 and Penguins in 2009.
Sidney Crosby, who registered two assists in Game 6 and finished the postseason with 6-13—19, won the 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. Crosby became the 10th player in NHL history – and third Penguin – to win both the Hart Memorial Trophy and Conn Smythe Trophy.
"I've said all along here through the course of the playoffs, he's deserving of the Conn Smythe," said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan. "His numbers don't indicate the impact he had on helping this team win, or the impact he had on a game-to-game basis. He was a great leader for our team. It started by example with his performance and how he played. He's a complete player. He plays at both ends of the rink. He's a great faceoff guy. He kills penalties when we need him to. He plays in all the key situations."
Four other members of the Penguins were part of the team’s 2009 championship: Sidney Crosby, Marc-Andre Fleury, Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin.
Sullivan, who replaced Mike Johnston behind the Pittsburgh bench Dec. 12, became the sixth head coach in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup after taking over midseason. Sullivan (33-16-5 during the regular season, 16-8 in the playoffs) became the second Pittsburgh head coach to achieve the feat – Dan Bylsma also did so in 2008-09 (18-3-4 during the regular season, 16-8 clip in the playoffs).
"Mike came in and made it pretty clear how he wanted us to play, what he expected from each individual guy," said Crosby of his coach. "I think guys just welcomed the opportunity, welcomed the challenge, tried to get back on track."
Logan Couture scored San Jose’s lone goal to become the fifth player since 1995 to reach the 30-point milestone within a single postseason (10-20—30).
Sharks goaltender Martin Jones (24 SV) finished the Stanley Cup Final with a 2.27 goals-against average and .932 save percentage. He stopped 68-of-72 shots over the final two games.
"One of the all-time best goaltending performances in a Final probably ever, or right up there anyway," said coach DeBoer of Jones. "I thought he was sensational every game we played. Gave us a chance to compete and get it to six games."
The NHL aired a tribute video in honor of hockey legend Gordie Howe, who passed away Friday at age 88. The Sharks and Penguins also wore No. 9 decals during pregame warmup.
By Staff of TheDailySportsHerald.com and news services