EL CENTRO — Pittsburg claimed its fifth franchise Stanley Cup title Sunday, as the Pengs’ put down the Preds’ 2-0 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville for the go-ahead 4-2 series victory and the first back to back Championship run in the NHL salary cap era (19 years).
In game one, Nashville found themselves in an early 3-0 hole at the end of the first period. Unitizing the same poise that landed them in the deepest playoff run in team history, the Predators fought back to tie the game in the third at 3-3 but were outmatched late by the Penguin’s high percentage shooting of 5 total goals on 12 attempts.
Nashville pounced first in game two with 7:03 remaining in the first when Pontus Aberg hit the back of the net for a 1-0 lead. Four minutes later, Jake Guentzel made the equalizer. Not until the third period did the action pick up.
In the first four minutes of the final period in the second game, Pittsburgh smashed in three more goals to stifle the Predators at PPG Paints Arena for the 4-1 win and 2-0 series lead.
Nashville maintained their undefeated regulation home playoff record with a 5-1 blowout in game three and another dominating 4-1 home win in game four to make it a series again at two games a-piece.
In game five, the Pengs’ blitzed the Preds’ for another three-score opening period. As opposed to game one, Pittsburg shut down Nashville’s offensive productivity and kept on the gas as they flicked in three more scores for the 6-0 landslide to reclaim the 3-2 series advantage.
In their next match-up, the drama unfolded with 67 seconds remaining in the second period of play when Referee Kevin Pollock lost sight of the puck that was behind Penguin goalie Matt Murray. As Colton Sissons tapped in the loose puck, Pollock whistled the play dead calling a disallowed goal. To the dismay of the Nashville hopeful, the replay clearly showed plenty of space in the crease which validated the ref’s blown call.
The game was still scoreless in the the final minutes of the third period when Patric Hornqvist deflected a wrister off Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne’s elbow for the late 1-0 lead. Carl Hagelin’s slapper found an empty net with 14 seconds to go – icing the 2-0 lead and Pittsburgs fifth Stanley Cup. Penguin’s Sidney Crosby earned his second consecutive Conn Smythe (MVP) Trophy.