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Mike Sullivan wonders if Penguins can three-peat

Coach pumps up crowd at parade after back-to-back Stanley Cup championships

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan wasn't shy Wednesday.

After parading through an estimated crowd of 650,000, according to Pittsburgh city officials, Sullivan took the stage in Point State Park as the coach of the first repeat Stanley Cup champions since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998. A year ago, during a similar celebration, Sullivan suggested it might be fun to do it all again.

After winning the Stanley Cup for the second time in two seasons with the Penguins, Sullivan said he wouldn't mind making a bit more history.

 

[RELATED: Penguins celebrate second consecutive Stanley Cup championship]

 

"I said a little something last year, seeing if we could do this again," Sullivan said. "I wonder if we could repeat, or three-peat, should I say?"

No NHL team has won the Cup more than two consecutive times since the New York Islanders won four straight from 1980-83.

"What can we say about this group of hockey players here?" Sullivan said. "I just think there isn't a group I've been around that knows how to win more than these guys. … These guys are fierce competitors. They just find ways to get it done. We couldn't be more proud of them."

Video: Fans celebrate Cup win at Penguins victory parade

The Penguins hired Sullivan on Dec. 12, 2015, after they began the season 15-10-3 under Mike Johnston. After surging through the second half of the regular season, Pittsburgh finished second in the NHL in points (104) behind the Washington Capitals (120).

In their first Stanley Cup Playoffs under Sullivan, the Penguins defeated the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference First Round, the Capitals in the second round, and the Tampa Bay Lightning in the conference final to reach the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2009. They won the best-of-7 series 4-2 against the San Jose Sharks.

Pittsburgh had a more straightforward 2016-17 season, again finishing second in points (111) to Washington (118), but dealt with several injuries to key players. Center Sidney Crosby missed the first six games because of a concussion and goaltender Matt Murray missed the first nine because of a broken hand.

Video: Can the Penguins win for a third straight year?

Murray did not play in the first two rounds of the 2017 playoffs after sustaining a lower-body injury before Game 1 of the first round against the Columbus Blue Jackets. He returned in Game 3 of the conference final against the Ottawa Senators, after Marc-Andre Fleury allowed four goals on nine shots in the first period.

Defenseman Kris Letang had neck surgery on April 13 that kept him out of the playoffs.

Despite the adversity, the Penguins reached the Cup Final for a second straight season. They won that best-of-7 series 4-2 against the Nashville Predators.

Crosby, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy for the second consecutive season, would like to win the Stanley Cup for a fourth time.

"Look at this scene," Crosby said atop the stage at Point State Park. "This is what it's all about. We work all year to get to this point. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn't have done without you. … Thanks for showing up today and let's try to do this again next year."

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