The Pens faced off against division and cross-state rival Philadelphia Flyers in round one where they found Forward Max Talbot (current Flyer) to be an unsung hero after fighting Dan Carcillo in game six when they came back from a 3-0 deficit.
The Eastern Conference Semi-finals proved be just as intense when another star-studded showdown of Crosby versus Ovechkin. The Caps quickly took a 2-0 series lead against Pittsburgh who came back in game three to beat Washington in overtime. The Pens went onto win three straight games before losing game six in overtime while they were short veteran defenseman Sergei Gonchar who was injured on a knee-on-knee collision with Ovechkin. After an huge early save by Marc-Andre Fleury on Ovechkin, the Pens gained momentum by scoring six goals to eliminate the Capitals 6-2.
After two fought early series, the Pens met the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Hurricanes had just upset the New Jersey Devils (6th seed) and Boston Bruins (1st seed), but seemed out of gas in this series. After a huge performance by forward Evgeni Malkin (5 goals, 3 assists) which included his first post-season hat trick, the Pens went onto sweep the Hurricanes and find themselves in the Finals the second straight year.
The series rematch seemed to be an exact replica from last season as the Red Wings took a 2-0 series lead, but this time the Pens bounced back evening the series at home. As if a Stanley Cup Final wouldn’t be intense, add in the Marian Hossa factor. The forward that the Pens traded for at last season’s trade deadline decided to sign with the Red Wings for one year deal instead of accepting Pittsburgh’s long-term offer because he felt Detroit had a better chance to win it all. Awkward. Well, even though the Pens had momentum, game five was a true disaster. The Pens gave up three power play goals and Detroit went on to win 5-0. Deja Vu all over again. The Pens are down 3-2 in the series as they go back home to play game six. Just like the year before. But this time the Pens made sure a cup would not be raised on in front of their fans. Both Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy scored to help the Pens push a game seven. Every game seven has a hero, and this one was Max Talbot. He scored both of the Pens goals in the second period. After Fleury’s heart-stopping save on Nickas Lidstrom with only seconds remaining, the Pens won their third Stanley Cup in team history.
Thankfully, history did not repeat itself.
Although the Kings just won yesterday, Vegas moves on. They already have the odds for next season’s winner. Who’s on top? That would be your Pittsburgh Penguins with 7/1 odds followed by LA with 11/1.