This was one of the best Stanley Cup Finals I’ve seen in a while. Throughout all 7 games, it was a see-saw battle that swung my emotions from one end of the spectrum to the other. What better way to cap off such a dramatic series than with a winner-takes-all game seven. As far as game 7′s go, this one had pretty much everything a hockey fan could hope for. And if you’re a Pittsburgh Penguins fan, it had everything you can hope for… and more.
After all was said and done, Sidney Crosby became the youngest Captain in NHL history to raise the Stanley Cup. He lead the Penguins to their 3rd Stanley Cup in franchise history at the age of 21 years, 10 months, and 5 days. Despite tweaking his left knee in the 2nd period and sitting on the bench for most the the remainder of the game, he still came out and accepted the Stanley Cup for his team.
While the majority of the focus seemed to be on “Sidney’s first Cup”, there were lots of other notable players who also raised the Stanley Cup for the first time.
Conn Smythe winner, Evgeni Malkin contributed a lot to his team’s championship run, as did goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. This season’s Cup-winning team also featured 20-year old Jordan Staal, who joins his brother Eric in the Stanley Cup champions club. Sergei Gonchar raised the cup for the first time, after 14 seasons in the NHL, as did Phillippe Boucher in his 17th NHL season.
Maxim Talbot became the unlikely hero of game 7, scoring 2 goals to pave the way to the Pittsburgh Penguins victory. His first goal was set up by Evgeni Malkin after Detroit defenceman Brad Stuart gave the puck away in his own end. The game was so tight at that point that many believed that this may be the only goal of the game. Talbot’s second goal – the Stanley Cup winner – put the Penguins ahead 2-0 midway through the 2nd period and they never looked back.
While the Red Wings pressed, especially late in the game, they could not beat Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
Fleury aka “Flower” stopped barrage after barrage of shots from the Red Wings and kept his team out front. He had some help from the crossbar in the 3rd period, but played like he was determined to win for the entire game. He was a wall that the Wings could not penetrate, except for one point shot from Jonathan Ericsson with just over 6 minutes remaining in the game. Fleury’s most dramatic stop came with 1 second remaining in the 3rd period, when he dove across the net to stop Niklas Lidstrom from tying the game.