This week AT&T SportsNet will continue to broadcast a series of “Pittsburgh Penguins Classic” content. Including re-broadcasting the last Penguins victory against the Minnesota North Stars in the 1991 Stanley Cup Final (Game 6) tonight.
To get you ready for this game, we have provided a quick preview / recap of the game. Obviously, Penguin wins every game. After watching these games in full for the “first time” myself, I registered my biggest takeaways and surprises from retro games. Some of these observations might jolt your memory, and some might become clear for the first time – moments that can only be looked back on can really be the focus.
ESTABLISH: After posting consecutive wins in Games 4 and 5, Penguin won another victory from claiming their first Stanley Cup title in franchise history. However, it is not an easy task. Minnesota North Stars has the best home record in the playoffs, and will not be quiet. But Pittsburgh’s victory at the Met Center in Game 4 gave the team the confidence that they could finish it.
SUMMARY: Serious offense Penguin scored early, late and everything. In the biggest route to winning the Cup title in more than 70 years, Pittsburgh cruised to an 8-0 victory on its way to lifting the holiest holiest grail. Mario Lemieux, who was named after the MVP playoffs, scored one goal and four points in the contest while goalkeeper Tom Barrasso put all 39 shots on goal.
WHAT TO NOTE:
* Goaltender Tom Barrasso started scoring for Pittsburgh even though he was absent in the last two periods of Game 5 due to a groin injury. He said before the match that he could finish Game 5, but the team decided to be careful.
* Only nine seconds into the match, Barrasso was tested with a rescue glove and after Neal Broten crashed into the Pittsburgh netminder’s leg. Broten goes to the box. A few minutes later Jimmy Johnson punched Paul Coffey, still recovering from a broken jaw, on his face. Clearly, Minnesota’s strategy is to defeat the Penguin literally.
* Penguins get a break during the initial power game. Jaromir Jagr knocked the net out of the mooring when Minnesota was going out of the zone to hurry. Instead there is a faceoff in the Minnesota zone. And…
*AIM! SAMUELSSON! NOT TYPO! With the power game coming to an end, Penguin uses a more defensive alignment in the game. Bryan Trottier won the match. D to D and Samuelsson slip through goalkeeper Jon Casey.
* Broten managed to lick Barrasso, but Penguins got the last laugh with a power-play goal and a 1-0 lead two minutes before the match.
* Crunch time for Penguins. They get back-to-back penalties and stare at 1:26 5-on-3. It will not last long. Mario Lemieux shows why he is the team’s best penalty killer. He perfectly reads the bait game and uses his long range to knock the chip away to deny Mike Modano from one point at a time. Lemieux then started the ice for a runaway candidate, but was transported by Modano, who was called in for a penalty. In the next 4-on-3, Lemieux again steals the bait from Broten and easily clears the zone. Lemieux finishes it on both ends of the ice because …
*AIM! LEMIEUX! An extraordinary permission from Larry Murphy from the goal line. He took a piece of the board to catapult Lemieux to break away. Lemieux pulled Casey to the ground and easily embarrassed him. Casey must have had a bad dream, 66, coming with rest for the rest of his career.
*AIM! MULLEN! Only 55 seconds later, Penguins were 3-0 up in the first period. It was a game that appeared to be broken with the team in a short match (8 seconds) with Modano still in the box. What they need is six seconds because Mullen is preparing to get a pass from Kevin Stevens.
* Barrasso stretches out to stop Broten at the door during a Minnesota power play. Maybe a turning point in the game. Pittsburgh had taken the lead in the previous match. Barrasso won’t have it tonight.
* Penguins damage Casey. Brian Hayward takes over the goal to start the second period.
* It’s very clear in this match that Pittsburgh is a superior team. Penguins are always one step ahead, suffocating in the defense zone and setting up a passing clinic. I am surprised this series runs six games. The North Star cannot keep up.
*AIM! ERREY! Penguin lead extended to 4-0. Errey drove into the goal and really Jagr shot the chip into the goal from Errey’s stick. But look at Errey’s face after he scored this goal. Only pure joy. You must think that with that goal Penguins only know they are destined to win. Errey celebrated that liking was a Stanley Cup winner overtime goal. And maybe, in the mind of that team. The whole bench explodes.
*AIM! FRANCIS! It only took 73 seconds after Errey’s goal for Penguins to ice this contest with the aim of breaking away Francis Francis who made it 5-0. The cup, unofficially, will come to Pittsburgh. Mullen, who has an amazing game, stole pieces in the neutral zone. Both he and Francis immediately read the play. Francis headed for ice. Mullen found it. Francis goes five holes. Start planning a parade.
AIM! MULLEN! With 1:16 remaining in the second period 6-0. Mullen finished this match with two goals, three points. And Penguins just pour it. Mullen slipped behind the North Star defense and received an outrageous pass from Stevens to break away. High gloves. No goalkeeper can stop a Penguin. They play at different levels. Pittsburgh plays chess while Minnesota plays Hungry Hungry Hippos.
* Unlock seconds from the third period. Mullen AND Francis dived first to block Gaetan Duchesne’s point shot. It’s 6-0 friends. And they still put it on the phone. That’s when you can feel that a team can feel the championship is in your grasp.
*AIM! PAEK! Eighty-nine seconds into the third period and Pittsburgh cannot be stopped. Pittsburgh gets 2-on-1. Lemieux, doing what he did, pulled the defender over to him and then gave Paek the perfect pass alone. Paek pulled the piece to Hayward’s paper and put it on the net. How Celly. Beginners live their best lives.
* Penguins have violated Casey. Now they destroy Hayward. He was withdrawn and Casey returned to goal to finish the game. Minnesota has no answer to the Pittsburgh attack.
* This must be the longest period in Penguin history. I know Game 7 of the 2009 Cup Final is very intense and tense. And to me it feels like forever. But is it worse when you KNOW you will win and still have to wait for the clock to beat? Add to this the fact that this is the FIRST championship for a team that has been a league laughing stock for 24 years. I’m not old enough to remember ’91, but I’m sure that is debatable.
My uncle Kevin (the great penguins fanned his whole life) confirmed it for me: “Good question. I have all of these goals and it seems like we will never make it to the end.” “Your type of play. Chair. Not really sure that feels longer. Both of them may feel quite long in their own way. If that makes sense.”
Indeed, that makes sense.
* Penguins play the smartest hockey period in this third. There is no risky (surprising) game. Collapsed nets in the defense zone. They take out the pucks from the defense zone and throw it into the offensive zone. They even back down their attacks sometimes just to eat hours.
* Minnesota officially makes use of the nine minutes remaining in the match. PA Announcers thanked the fans for a great season and they gave a standing ovation to Bintang. Rather strange moments with lots of time left on the clock. But left behind by touchdown, I guess everyone knows for sure.
*AIM! MURPHY! This is 8-0. Another silly pass from Mario. Go blind, sensory perception for Murphy in the slot. The backhander is in the upper corner.
* Minnesota continued to come at the last minute. Barrasso had to make three, four big and difficult stops. He wants the closure to be something vicious.
* Penguins dungeons to the top. “The Stanley Cup has come to the city of Pittsburgh. The 1991 Stanley Cup Championship, Pittsburgh Penguins.”
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