Skip to main content
playoffs

25 memorable moments from 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Penguins' fourth championship culminated postseason full of highlights

by Cutler Klein @CutlerKlein / NHL.com Staff Writer

The 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs were filled with wild finishes, incredible goals, intense moments and some lighthearted fun, all culminating in a championship for the Pittsburgh Penguins, who defeated the San Jose Sharks in six games in the Stanley Cup Final.

Here are 25 memorable moments from the 2016 playoffs:

PENGUINS WIN CUP

June 12 -- After the Penguins failed to win the Stanley Cup at home for the first time in their history in Game 5, they defeated the Sharks 3-1 in Game 6 at SAP Center for their fourth championship. Kris Letang scored the series-winning goal 7:46 into the second period, 1:19 after Sharks center Logan Couture tied it 1-1. Captain Sidney Crosby won the Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player of the playoffs.

"There's so many guys who contributed," Crosby said. "I look at this as a total team effort. I just tried to work hard every night, do my job just like everyone else. I don't know if I did anything different or specific; I think everyone just competed, everyone tried to do what's expected of them, tried to play their role. If you do that every night, you have a pretty good chance of winning."

The night featured a moment of silence for the victims of the Orlando nightclub massacre and a video tribute to Gordie Howe, who died June 10 at 88.

Video: PIT@SJS, Gm6: Letang's goal helps Pens hoist Cup

 

SHARKNADO RUINS PENGUINS PARTY IN GAME 5

June 9 -- With thousands of people packed into the streets of Pittsburgh outside Consol Energy Center, the Sharks made sure the Penguins didn't raise the Cup, winning Game 5 3-2. All five goals were scored in the first period, the first four by defenseman Brent Burns, Couture, center Evgeni Malkin and forward Carl Hagelin in a 5:06 span to start the game. Sharks forward Melker Karlsson scored the winner at 14:47. It was the first time in the series that the Sharks held a lead in a game; their lone lead to that point came when Joonas Donskoi scored in overtime of Game 3.

"This team hasn't quit all year and we're not going to start now," said Sharks goalie Martin Jones, who made 44 saves. "There's still a long way to go, it's going to be an uphill battle, but we're going to fight till the very end."

 

METALLICA SHREDS NATIONAL ANTHEM

June 6 -- The pivotal Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final was rocking right from the start when Metallica members and avid Sharks fans James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett played the national anthem on guitar. After the performance, the guitars were signed by each member and auctioned for charity. The Sharks, who hosted a "Metallica Night" last season, came out to the band's "Seek and Destroy" during introductions.

Video: PIT@SJS, Gm4: Metallica perform national anthem

 

DONSKOI HERO FOR SHARKS, FINNISH ANNOUNCER

June 4 -- Donskoi scored 12:18 into overtime to give the Sharks a 3-2 win in Game 3 and cut the Penguins' lead in the Cup Final to 2-1. Finnish announcer Antti Makinen became an unexpected star when his call of Donskoi's goal for Finnish television quickly spread around the world.

Video: PIT@SJS, Gm3: Donskoi goes top-shelf to win Game 3

 

SHEARY WINS GAME 2 IN OT; CROSBY A CHEATER?

June 1 -- Conor Sheary's goal 2:35 into overtime, set up thanks to a clever faceoff play by Crosby, gave the Penguins a 2-1 victory in Game 2 of the Cup Final. Following Crosby's instruction to pass the puck off the faceoff instead of trying to shooting through the Sharks' block attempts, Letang set up Sheary for the winner. After the game, Couture questioned Crosby's faceoff ethics.

"He cheats," Couture said. "He gets away with that. He's Sidney Crosby."

 

BONINO! BONINO! BONINO!

May 30 -- Nick Bonino scored with 2:33 remaining in the third period to give the Penguins a 3-2 win in Game 1 of the Cup Final, but it was Harnarayan Singh's call on Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi that had everyone talking. Singh's emphatic "Bonino! Bonino! Bonino!" went viral and caught the attention of Bonino.

"They do a good job with their broadcasts," Bonino said. "It's just pretty funny the way they say it and everybody gets a laugh out of it. If you're watching the playoffs at all, you can't help but see them. They're all over social media. I think guys back home are getting a kick out of them; it's pretty funny."

Video: Celina Pompeani interviews Harnarayan Singh

 

PENGUINS REACH FINAL DESPITE RETURN OF STAMKOS

May 26 -- Pittsburgh advanced to the Cup Final for the first time since 2009 with a 2-1 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final. Bryan Rust scored the series-winner at 10:06 of the second period, his second goal of the game. Steven Stamkos' long-awaited return from surgery to remove blood clots near his right collarbone was not enough to spark the Lightning.

"I think we have evolved into a team in the true sense of the word," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said, "and I think tonight, that was on display. … We wanted to play in their face and in the gaps tight … I think we took the speed away that makes Tampa Bay so dangerous."

 

SHARKS REACH CUP FINAL FOR FIRST TIME

May 25 -- The Sharks reached the first Cup Final in their history with a 5-2 win against the St. Louis Blues in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final. Joe Pavelski got the scoring started for the Sharks with a great effort on a wraparound goal following a missed Joe Thornton breakaway chance. San Jose scored the first four goals of the game before Vladimir Tarasenko's goal at 11:39 of the third period, but Couture scored into an empty net in the final minute to put St. Louis away for good.

"It's great," Burns said. "You dream of getting the chance to play for this. It's a great feeling. We know we've got one more step to take to really let loose. It's incredible."

 

'HEARTBREAK KID' IN PITTSBURGH TO CHEER ON 'HBK LINE'

May 22 -- Penguins fans were thrilled with Hagelin, Bonino and Phil Kessel, nicknamed the "HBK Line," a tribute to wrestler Shawn Michaels' nickname, "The Heartbreak Kid." The "HBK Line" became so popular that Michaels attended Game 5 of the conference final in Pittsburgh; the Penguins lost 4-3 after Lightning center Tyler Johnson scored 53 seconds into overtime. The famous Primanti Brothers restaurant also created an HBK Sandwich, which Michaels eventually chowed down on.

Tweet from @ShawnMichaels: @bkeisel99 & I tackling the #HBKSandwich !! #ImFull #HBKLine https://t.co/RhgSLswqTj pic.twitter.com/A0kMcSXqkk

 

CROSBY FINALLY HERO IN OT, PENGUINS TOP LIGHTNING

May 17 -- Crosby scored 40 seconds into overtime to give the Penguins a 3-2 victory against the Lightning in Game 2 and even the series at 1-1. It was the first playoff OT goal of Crosby's NHL career.

"[I] was just happy," said Crosby, who played 113 postseason games before scoring an OT goal. "Whether I've scored in the last seven games or haven't scored in the last whatever, it feels good to get rewarded. I think we deserved that one tonight."

 

KID CALLS BLUES-STARS GAME ON RADIO

May 17 -- After a video of 12-year-old Wyatt Nelson doing in-game commentary for his blind father at a Western Hockey League game in Saskatchewan went viral, he got to call part of the first period for Game 2 of the conference final at Scottrade Center. Nelson and his father, Gerry, were invited by Blues general manager Doug Armstrong and radio color commentator Kelly Chase. The viral video was part of the Discover "Day with the Cup" series.

"I'm meeting so many household names that a 12-year-old boy would dream of meeting and I'm getting to rub shoulders with them and get pictures with them," Wyatt said. "Now I get to call part of a NHL game. I can't believe it, I'm pumped."

Video: SJS@STL, Gm2: Wyatt Nelson calls Gm2 of the WCF

 

BATTLE OF BEARDS

May 15 -- Game 1 of the conference final between the Blues and Sharks got off to a scruffy start. During an after-the-whistle scrum, David Backes and Thornton started pulling at each other's beard. The footage of the encounter spread across the internet and added another dimension to the tradition of playoff beards. St. Louis went on to win 2-1.

"We haven't played a team like this," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "The other two series [against the Chicago Blackhawks and Dallas Stars] were similar. This series, and this team that we're playing against, is completely different. This is no different than playing Los Angeles. They're a heavy, hard team, strong on the puck, a lot of wall battles. We haven't had a series like this."

 

BLUES SHAKE PLAYOFF DEMONS, REACH CONFERENCE FINAL

May 11 - The Blues scored early and often to defeat the Stars in Game 7 of the second round. They took a 3-0 lead in the first period thanks to goals from Robby Fabbri, Paul Stastny and Patrik Berglund. The Blues won a Game 7 twice in one postseason for the first time since 1968, their inaugural season. Hitchcock said he wasn't taking this opportunity for granted.

"To play in the conference final, I know as a coach here in Dallas (1998, 1999, 2000) I took it for granted, and it was a big mistake," Hitchcock said. "I left here and thought all you do is play in the conference final or the Cup Final, then I went to Philadelphia and had early success there. That was 2004, and I've never been back since. Sometimes you can play your whole career and not play in the conference final, so it's pretty impressive."

 

PENGUINS ESCAPE CAPITALS, ADVANCE TO EASTERN FINAL

May 10 -- The Penguins blew a three-goal lead to the Washington Capitals in the second and third periods thanks to three consecutive penalties for delay of game, but Bonino stopped the comeback with the series-winning goal 6:32 into overtime in Game 6 of the second round. The Penguins nearly scored earlier in overtime, but Capitals forward Jay Beagle dove across the crease to stop a Patric Hornqvist shot at a wide-open net.

"It's the best feeling in the game right there, to win a series and have your teammates around you," Bonino said. "I can't put it into words right now. I still have chills, a little bit."

 

LEHTONEN STOPS SCHWARTZ, FORCES GAME 7

May 9 -- The Stars defeated the Blues 3-2 to extend their second-round series to Game 7. St. Louis nearly forced overtime in the final seconds when Jaden Schwartz took a shot off of a great feed from behind the net, but Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen stuck his left pad out at the last moment to deny him and seal the game.

"It was exciting," Lehtonen said regarding the chaotic last minute of the game. "I just try to stay relaxed as I can and just follow the puck and not try to play it any other way than I've done the last 59-and-a-half minutes. It's easy to say, but today it worked."

 

FISHER GETS MUSIC CITY ROCKING WITH 3OT GOAL

May 5 -- The Nashville Predators won Game 4 against the Sharks 4-3 in the third overtime when Mike Fisher scored off of a rebound at 11:12. The Predators scored two first-period goals, but the Sharks led into the third. James Neal scored the tying goal to send the game to overtime. It was the longest game in Predators history and sent the series back to San Jose tied at 2-2. The game finished after 1 a.m. CT on May 6.

"I'm so happy for the guys for pulling it out and getting the win," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "They invested a lot. There's a lot of character in our room. To win a game like that is big if you think about the other scenario. You're 3-1 the other way; one win, three losses. This ties it up 2-2; it shortens the series. Our guys played like champs tonight."

Video: SJS@NSH, Gm4: Fisher slides winner past Jones

 

FLEURY DRESSES, MURRAY IMPRESSES IN WIN VS. CAPITALS

May 2 -- Matt Murray made an NHL career-high 47 saves in a 3-2 victory that gave the Penguins a 2-1 series lead against the Capitals. He made 19 saves in the third period to help secure the win. Washington outshot Pittsburgh 49-23 but lost thanks to a 3-0 start by the Penguins. It was the first game that Marc-Andre Fleury dressed for the Penguins in the playoffs after he sustained a concussion March 31.

"I don't think I've had that many shots in quite some time," Murray said. "That was a busy one. … I wouldn't say it's any easier or any harder whether you face less or more shots. It's all mental, I think, at that point, so they're just different challenges."

 

SHARKS MAKE NEW FELINE FRIEND

April 29 -- In a strange incident before Game 1 between the Sharks and Predators, a black cat ran onto the ice and past the bench area. Instead of worrying about the cat as a jinx, the Sharks embraced the feline charm and even gave him a nickname, "Jo Paw-velski," a nod to their captain. The Sharks quickly made a stuffed animal version of the cat and brought it with them on their road trips to Nashville. Jo Paw-velski even inspired parody video game covers for the EA Sports NHL franchise.

Video: NSH@SJS, Gm1: Sharks bring black cat to Game 1

 

HATS FLY FOR OSHIE, CAPITALS WIN GAME 1

April 28 -- T.J. Oshie provided plenty of offense for the Capitals against the Penguins in Game 1. He scored the final three goals for the Capitals, including the winner 9:33 into overtime, to give Washington a 4-3 win.

"I haven't won too many championships in my lifetime," Oshie said. "Maybe through the youth years. That's kind of the stuff you dream about when you're a kid playing in the backyard by yourself is scoring the OT winner and getting a hat trick. It was awesome."

 

WILD 'GO CRAZY' WITH PRINCE TRIBUTE

April 24 -- The Minnesota Wild took time to honor Minnesota native Prince following his death in April. The Wild used rally towels to put his logo into the stands at Xcel Energy Center before Game 6 of the first round against the Stars, played a moving video tribute and observed a moment of silence before puck drop. During the game, they used Prince's hit "Let's Go Crazy" as their goal song. The Wild lost 5-4 and the series to Dallas in six games.

 

BEDLAM IN BROOKLYN, ISLANDERS FINALLY ADVANCE

April 24 -- Captain John Tavares scored the tying goal with less than a minute remaining in the third period and the winner 10:41 into the second overtime to give the New York Islanders a 2-1 win in Game 6 of the first round and eliminate the Florida Panthers from the playoffs. It was the Islanders' third overtime victory of the series and first series win since 1993.

"You can't even really process it," Tavares said. "I'm glad it went in because my leg started cramping in that pile. I'm glad I didn't have to skate back down. It was obviously just amazing to look around and just see all the orange and blue. Just incredible."

 

KANE KEEPS BLACKHAWKS ALIVE

April 21 -- The Blackhawks avoided elimination with a 4-3 double-overtime victory against the Blues in Game 5 of the first round. Patrick Kane scored the winning goal; he made a great move to shake free in the slot, took a shot that trickled through the crease and wide, then circled the net and put the puck into the open net.

"I tried to make a move around a guy who was maybe trying to block my shot," Kane said. "Made a move, saw the puck and tried to get one on net there. Fortunately enough it kind of squeaked out to the other side.

 

HAS 'MAGIC MAN' DONE HIS LAST TRICK?

April 21 -- As the Detroit Red Wings lost their first-round series to the Lightning in five games, questions swirled about the future of Pavel Datsyuk. He told the Detroit Free Press before the playoffs that he was going to retire from the NHL and return to Russia, so Detroit's 1-0 loss in Game 5 may have been his final game for the Red Wings.

"I need a little bit to cool down and for the emotion to go out, and then start thinking about more," Datsyuk said after the loss.

 

MURRAY BLANKS BLUESHIRTS ON BROADWAY

April 21 -- The Penguins put the New York Rangers on thin ice with a decisive 5-0 win in Game 4 at Madison Square Garden to take a 3-1 lead in their first-round series. It was Murray's first NHL playoff shutout in just his second playoff start.

"A win is a win and it feels good, but at the same time, at this point of the season, it really doesn't matter until you get the fourth one," Murray said. "I'm nervous before every game. Obviously these last two, more so than usual, but I thought I did a good job of controlling that."

Pittsburgh would go on to eliminate New York in Game 5 two days later.

 

FLYERS REMEMBER ED SNIDER

April 18 -- The Philadelphia Flyers put together a fitting tribute to honor Ed Snider's memory before Game 3 against the Capitals in the first round, their first home game since their founder died April 11 at 83. The ceremony included images of Snider's most iconic moments. Afterward, Flyers anthemist Lauren Hart was joined by audio of Kate Smith, who was a good-luck charm for Philadelphia's two Cup runs in the mid-1970s, for a duet of "God Bless America." Flyers forward Michael Raffl scored 57 seconds into the game, but the Capitals went on to score six straight goals in a 6-1 victory.

Video: A Tribute to Ed Snider

View More