Crosby, Penguins cap amazing year to repeat

Penguins beat Predators to claim Stanley Cup

Penguins beat Predators to claim Stanley Cup

Sidney Crosby was hailed as "The Next One" before he played his first National Hockey League game 12 years ago and he more than lived up to the hype on Sunday when he lifted a third Stanley Cup to cement his place among the all-time greats.

In Super Bowl XXXIV on January 30, 2000, the St. Louis Rams broke a tie score with 1:54 remaining and the Tennessee Titans couldn't come back.

The Stanley Cup is returning to Pittsburgh after Patric Hornqvist scored the go-ahead goal on a bad-angle shot with 95 seconds left in a 2-0 win over the Nashville Predators in Game 6.

In addition to back-to-back Cups and back-to-back Conn Smythe Trophies as the playoff MVP, Crosby led Team Canada to the championship in the preseason World Cup of Hockey and is a Hart Trophy finalist for the regular-season MVP along with the Oilers' Connor McDavid and Blue Jackets' goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.

Last year, the Penguins also clinched the Cup on a Sunday, and the parade was held the following Wednesday. It's unclear whether that scenario will repeat itself.

The focal point of the Penguins' system in arguably all three zones, Crosby faced the shutdown lines and pairings of every team that Pittsburgh faced in the postseason. Mario (Lemieux, team owner) said he'll go down in history as one of the greatest leaders and Jim Rutherford (team general manager) referred to him as one of the top four players of all time. "He's just such a terrific person and has such an appetite to win, and I think it's really contagious amongst our group".

The Penguins, who defeated the Sharks in six games in last year's Final, became the first team to repeat as Stanley Cup champions since the Red Wings in 1997 and 1998.

After a brief stroll around the rink, Crosby handed the Cup to Ron Hainsey, who had not even played a single playoff game until this season. If they won the Cup this year, he would have surely retired. Crosby was also awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy (playoff MVP) for the second year in a row.

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Evgeni Malkin had 28 points, including three goals in the Cup final.

Crosby finished these playoffs with 27 points in 24 games and now is tied for 10th all-time with 1.11 points per-game in the post-season (minimum 50 games).

" 'You have a small window to play and have a career, ' Crosby said". Viewership was up 19 percent vs. the 2016 Stanley Cup Final, which featured the Penguins and the San Jose Sharks.

Moments later, Pittsburgh players were firing gloves and helmets toward the ceiling, celebrating a hard-earned Cup.

The series victor came with under two minutes left in the game by Patric Hornqvist, ironically a 2005 Predators seventh-round pick, who threw the puck to the net from behind the goal line and it bounced off of the back of Pekka Rinne's glove and in. He gave coach Mike Sullivan the blunt directive to cut through the noise when he hired him to replace Mike Johnston in December 2015. "We had a lot of injuries and things like that".

Sullivan sits young players next to Crosby in the team's home dressing room for exactly that reason.

"I think we still play together long time and maybe when we retire think about it", Malkin said.

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