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Stanley Cup Final

Instant analysis: Penguins at Sharks, Game 6

Letang goal, stifling defense in third period help Pittsburgh win Cup for fourth time

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / Staff Writer

SAN JOSE -- The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the San Jose Sharks 3-1 in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final at SAP Center on Sunday to win the Cup for the fourth time in their history.

The Penguins scored first for the fifth time in the series when Brian Dumoulin's shot from the left point went in under goalie Martin Jones' blocker for a power-play goal 8:16 into the game.

Logan Couture pulled the Sharks even 6:27 into the second period, but defenseman Kris Letang put the Penguins back ahead 1:19 later.

Rookie goaltender Matt Murray (18 saves) and the Penguins' stifling defense in the third period made the the Letang goal stand up as the game-winner. Patric Hornqvist sealed it with an empty-net goal with 1:02 remaining.

Video: PIT@SJS, Gm6: Crosby feeds Letang for a 2-1 lead

What we learned: In what was the best game of the Cup Final, each team played at a high level. The Penguins were a little bit better and are deserving winners of the Cup.

Letang was superb, scoring the winning goal and playing 29:23.

After a shaky start in a 4-2 loss in Game 5, Murray rebounded again. He showed he was locked in early by stopping Matt Nieto on a breakaway 6:38 into the game. When the Sharks stepped up the pressure in the second period, Murray answered the bell, getting beat only by Couture's shot through a screen from the left circle.

The Penguins shut it down defensively in the third period, holding the Sharks to two shots on goal. Jones (25 saves) did his best in net again, but the Sharks couldn't get him another goal.

The Penguins fixed whatever was wrong with their power play in the first three games (0-for-6), scoring on the man-advantage for the third consecutive game.

Video: PIT@SJS, Gm6: Hornqvist's empty-netter seals the win

What this means for the Penguins: They completed a remarkable turnaround from being 15-14-3 on Dec. 19 to winning the Stanley Cup for the first time since 2009.

What this means for the Sharks: They hung tough despite being outplayed for much of the series, falling two victories short of winning the Stanley Cup for the first time in their 25-year history.

Key moment: SAP Center was rocking after Couture tied it 1-1, but Letang and the Penguins responded with a strong shift to retake the lead. Letang, who was dominant in controlling the puck for much of the lengthy shift in the Sharks zone, took a feed from Sidney Crosby and banked in a shot from the right circle off Jones' stick at 7:46.

Unsung player of the game: Before scoring the empty-net goal to seal the Cup-clinching victory, Hornqvist again sacrificed physically to help the Penguins win. His five blocked shots and four hits led Pittsburgh.

What's next: The Penguins enjoy a summer of celebration, and each will get a day with the Stanley Cup.

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