There will be no fourth Stanley Cup added to the trophy case of the Pittsburgh Penguins -- at least not this season.
The four-game sweep at the hands of the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Final put an end to the Penguins' dream of another championship, which would have been the club's second in the past five seasons. Instead, 2009 remains the final glory year for a club that anticipated a run of excellence after defeating the Detroit Red Wings in that year's Stanley Cup Final.
Since then, the Penguins have won three playoff series, losing four others in a string of disappointments.
None of those ousters, however, will likely sting as much as this one. The Penguins were the top seed in the East and carved through their first two opponents with relative ease, winning six of seven games before meeting the Bruins.
"Our team is a team that considers itself a team capable of winning a Stanley Cup, put together to win a Stanley Cup," Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said. "That's our expectation from Day One. That's how we build through the season. We certainly feel that we were a team that was capable of winning a Stanley Cup."
Pittsburgh's high-octane offense was firing on all cylinders, scoring a postseason-high 47 goals in the first two rounds. Their power play, laden with world-class offensive players, was lethal through the first 11 games, scoring 13 goals. Even its goaltending had been shored up by the performance of backup Tomas Vokoun, who played brilliantly during his seven-game run after relieving Marc-Andre Fleury in Game 5 of the first round.
Then, in the blink of an eye, the dream was over, smothered by the impenetrable defense-first game plan of the fourth-seeded Bruins.
Pittsburgh scored two goals in the series, one of five teams in the history of the NHL to experience scoring futility at that level in a postseason series.
So what exactly happened to turn Pittsburgh's sweet Stanley Cup dreams into an unshakeable nightmare in the span of a week?
Here are five of the ingredients in this recipe for disaster: