NASHVILLE — The Pittsburgh Penguins became the first team in nearly two decades to win a second consecutive Stanley Cup championship when they defeated the Nashville Predators, 2-0, on Sunday in Game 6 of a seesaw series that pitted a high-scoring heavyweight against an upstart challenger.
Penguins wing Patric Hornqvist, who played for the Predators for six seasons, scored the winner when he shot the puck off Nashville’s goaltender, Pekka Rinne, with 1 minute 35 seconds remaining in the third period. Carl Hagelin added an empty-net goal with 14 seconds left.
The Penguins held off the hard-charging Predators, who were making their first appearance in the Stanley Cup finals, having entered the playoffs as the lowest seed in the Western Conference. The Predators outshot the Penguins in nearly every game, and their stout defense held the Penguins’ stars, including Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, in check for long stretches.
But on Sunday, three days after they had poured in six goals and shut out the Predators in Game 5 in Pittsburgh, the Penguins outshot the Predators, 29-27, and beat them in Nashville, where the Predators had been nearly flawless during the postseason.
The game could have been far different, however. After a tense, scoreless first period, the Predators’ Colton Sissons seemed to have scored at 1:07 of the second when he threw himself at a loose puck in the Pittsburgh crease and pushed it past goaltender Matt Murray. But the officials ruled that the play had been blown dead before Sissons touched the puck.
Television replays appeared to show that Murray never had control of the puck.
It was so noisy in the arena, Penguins center Scott Wilson said, “I didn’t even hear the whistle, and I was standing right there.”
Wilson added, “But obviously, us getting a bounce like that was huge.”
Game 6 was the first in these finals to be won by the visiting team. The Penguins took the first two games at home before the series shifted to Nashville, where the Predators roared back with a 5-1 victory in Game 3 and a 4-1 win in Game 4.
The Penguins, who beat the San Jose Sharks in the finals last season, have now won five championships, all of them since 1991. No other N.H.L. team has won as many in that span, and no other team has repeated as champion since the Detroit Red Wings did so in 1997 and 1998.
The Penguins are also the first team to win consecutive titles in the league’s salary-cap era, which began after a lockout in 2004-5.
This Stanley Cup is the third for Crosby, 29, the Penguins’ captain and perhaps the N.H.L.’s most recognizable star, who also won his second consecutive Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the postseason. Crosby had 27 playoff points, on eight goals and 19 assists.
Crosby, who was booed mercilessly by Predators fans throughout the series, became the first player to receive the trophy in consecutive years since the Penguins’ Mario Lemieux, who won it in 1991 and 1992.
“It’s hard to throw it all together like that,” Crosby said of his achievements, which also include two Olympic gold medals as a member of Canada’s team.
Lemieux, who retired in 2006 and is an owner of the Penguins, was more emphatic, saying, “He’s the main reason we went back-to-back.”
After being shut out in Pittsburgh in Game 5, the Predators needed to set the tone in the first period. Instead, it was the Penguins who seemed sharper, outshooting the Predators and generally causing more mayhem around the goal.
Given how the Penguins had been pushed around in Nashville in Games 3 and 4, they more than held their own. The Predators threw their weight around, accumulating 17 hits in the first period, but the Penguins seemed to skate past them at other junctures, with Crosby and Malkin both getting clean looks at Rinne.
The Predators were not able to overcome Sissons’s nongoal. Instead of having to overcome a goal advantage, the Penguins stayed even in Bridgestone Arena, where the Predators were 9-2 in the postseason, including Sunday’s loss. The longer the game remained scoreless, the greater the likelihood that the Penguins could seal a victory with a single goal.
The Predators mounted a ferocious attack in the third period, but their power-play unit came up short again midway through the period. Nashville failed to score on a two-man advantage that lasted 32 seconds, and Murray stopped shot after shot, including one by Mike Fisher in a scramble in front with 10:40 left.
Murray, who also stopped a breakaway by Sissons and made several glove saves on shots from close range, finished with 27 saves and his second straight shutout.
In the end, it was Hornqvist, who played his first six seasons in Nashville, and the Penguins who were able to score from close range, and as the final seconds ticked off, the Predators’ fans could only watch in stunned amazement as the Penguins won yet another Cup.
Correction: June 12, 2017
An earlier version of this article misspelled the given name of the Predators’ goaltender. He is Pekka Rinne, not Pekke.
Published at Mon, 12 Jun 2017 04:35:14 +0000