USATSI_10104141_154158418_lowresThe Pittsburgh Penguins have won the Stanley Cup for the second year in a row. They became the first back-to-back champion since the Detroit Red Wings accomplished the feat in 1997-1998 and the first back-to-back champion in the so-called salary cap era.

Pittsburgh is just the second team to win three Cups in the salary cap era, joining the Chicago Blackhawks for the honour.

The Penguins took the victory on Sunday in Game Six by a final score of 2-0. It was a heartbreaker of a game for Nashville fans, with Pittsburgh scoring the winner with just over a minute and a half to go.

The Predators challenged the play on the basis of goalie interference, but it was not to be and Patric Hornqvist’s Cup-winning goal was secured. The puck somehow found twine after Hornqvist put it in front from behind the net.

Carl Hagelin added an empty-netter to seal the deal.

“That was our goal at the start of the year, we knew it hadn’t been done in a long time,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby. “To be able to accomplish it is a great feeling.”

“I really believe this group of players is a unique group of players,” head coach Mike Sullivan said. “They have a unique chemistry. They really care for one another. They’re a close-knit group. They play hard for one another, and they have an appetite to win.”

It was the second consecutive shutout for goalie Matt Murray, who came alive at the right time to give the Penguins the victory. He made 27 saves in Game Six. Murray now has two Stanley Cups under his belt, an astonishing accomplishment for a player with just 62 regular season games of experience. When you consider that he has 32 games of playoff experience in that timeframe, it’s mind-blowing.

It appeared that Nashville came out to a 1-0 lead early in the second period, but Colton Sissons had a goal waved off. The Predators tried to regroup after the call and played a sturdy defensive game, but they couldn’t squeak the puck past the Penguins goalie.

The Penguins played without forward Nick Bonino, who missed his fourth consecutive game due to a broken tibia.

Nashville had a five-on-three power play for 32 at one point, but they were unable to convert.

The Cup victory is Pittsburgh’s fifth in franchise history.

Crosby was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy for the second year in a row.

The series was a wild one, but the deciding contest was uncharacteristically close with only a two goal differential between the Predators and Penguins. Pittsburgh built on a blowout win in Game Five and kept the momentum going throughout a tough final game, with a noisy Nashville crowd keeping things interesting.

The atmosphere in Nashville was electric and the city put on a show to be remembered, even if things didn’t go their way in the end. Tens of thousands of fans jammed the streets to see the likes of Luke Bryan perform, with the CMA Music Festival and the Stanley Cup Final forming a perfect storm of energy in Music City.

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