LOS ANGELES: Sidney Crosby collected two assists Sunday and was named MVP of the Stanley Cup finals as the Pittsburgh Penguins beat San Jose 3-1 in game six to claim their fourth NHL championship.
The Penguins have won all four of their championships on the road as they beat the Sharks four games to two to earn their first Stanley Cup title since 2009. They also won back-to-back championships on the road in 1991 and 1992.
“Everyone has a part in this and it feels really good to win the last game of the season,” said Crosby, who was the first to touch the trophy before passing it on to teammate Trevor Daley.
The victory is another feather in the cap of Crosby’s brilliant career which includes two Olympic gold medals and now two Stanley Cup titles.
The 28-year-old Canadian Crosby assisted on Kris Letang’s second period goal and Patric Hornqvist’s empty netter with 62 seconds left on the clock in front of a crowd of 17,500 at the SAP Center arena in San Jose. It was Hornqvist’s ninth goal of the postseason.
Brian Dumoulin scored a powerplay goal for the Penguins.
Logan Couture, scored the only goal for the Sharks, who were competing in their first Stanley Cup final in their 25-year franchise history.
This was one of the most unlikely NHL championship teams in recent times as they struggled mightily to find their game in the first half of the season, taking a back seat to Alex Ovechkin’s Washington Capitals in the competitive Eastern Conference standings.
“It wasn’t easy getting here,” Crosby said. “Especially the way things started out first half of the season. I think everyone just stuck together and we found some momentum there in March and just kept going.”
Crosby’s Penguins turned it on late in the season and when crunch time came then they bundled the Ovechkin’s Capitals out of the playoffs in the quarter-finals.
Pittsburgh’s success also coincided with a coaching change as Mike Sullivan replaced Mike Johnston 28 games into the season with the Penguins having already lost 10 games.
“He held everyone accountable, giving different guys different opportunities and different roles. It was up to the guys to do something with it,” Crosby said.
Said Penguins forward Bryan Rust, “If you had told me this at the beginning of the season I would have called you a liar.”
The Sharks stole game five from the Penguins thanks to the brilliant goaltending of Martin Jones. The 26-year-old Jones stopped 24 of 26 shots on Sunday as he at least gave San Jose a chance in each game by keeping the scores close.
The Penguins got scoring from all four lines throughout the six game series and their defence earned badges of honour for the way they blocked numerous shots in front of their 22-year-old rookie netminder Matt Murray.
“I am just trying to enjoy the moment,” said Murray.