Cue the John Cena music….. I’ll wait…….. Ok, Ok, enough of that! You might have heard that there was a hockey game last night? It was played in a little town that is a non-traditional hockey market. The Predators played their first game in October of 1998. This season was their first Stanley Cup Finals in team history. They had massive crowds, celebrity National Anthem singers, and catfish.
It was all for naught. The Pittsburg Penguins won their second consecutive Stanley Cup to become the first back-to-back winners in the salary cap era. The last team to win back-to-back Stanley Cup was the 1997 and 1998 Detroit Red Wings. Sidney Crosby also walked away with his second consecutive Conn Smythe Trophy. There are only 2 other former NHL players to have won consecutive Conn Smythe Trophies, they are Mario Lemieux and Bernie Parent. The Conn Smythe is awarded to the NHL’s most valuable player in the playoffs.
The game itself was a close affair, which saw Nashville leading early in the hits department. But the Penguins would come back to even things out at 24-23 hits. One stat that the Predators dominated was faceoffs won. The Pens won a measly 18 faceoffs, while the Preds won a whopping 39! Both teams blocked an even number of shots, but Pittsburgh lead in penalty minutes with 8, compared to Nashville’s 0 PIMS. Shots were also even with the Pens taking 27 shots and the Preds taking 29. This game was back and forth, with each team getting quality scoring chances. In the second period, referee Kevin Pollack lost sight of the puck, as it was shot at goaltender Matt Murry. He whistled the play dead, but what he couldn’t see from his vantage point was that Colton Sissons had poked the puck into the net for what many felt was Nashville’s first goal. Video review would go on to show that the whistle was blown before the puck crossed the line, and waived off the goal. You could feel the tension as the third period started to draw to a close. Patric Hornqvist scored the first goal of the game as he banked a shot into the net from behind Rinne, deflecting it off the goal tender’s elbow. Carl Hagelin would score the second goal of the game on an empty net to end the game 2-0.
“I think this feeling right here. You can’t match this. It’s what it’s all about, and to be able to share that with a group of guys, a lot of them guys that you’ve played a long time with and understand how difficult it is and what you’ve had to go through and that kind of thing, share it with family and friends, that’s what it’s about. You have a small window to play and have a career. I feel fortunate, but I also understand how difficult it is, so you want to try to make the best of it.” — Penguins captain Sidney Crosby
“It’s hard to describe. You dream about lifting the Stanley Cup as a young kid, and the dream has happened probably a million times for most of us. Being that close, being two games away and 120 minutes away from lifting the Stanley Cup, it [stinks]. But for us, we did so many things well and this is such a tremendous run for our team, and we have such a young team. I think we gained a ton of experience from this run.” — Predators defenseman P.K. Subban
This marks the end of the NHL season, with training camps opening up in September. So until then, stay frosty!