The NHL season began in September with training camp, followed by preseason games, a six-month regular season and nearly two-month postseason. There are two teams remaining but they each know only one will be on the right side of the handshake line when the season ends and the Stanley Cup is awarded.
Following a 4-2 win in Game 5 in Pittsburgh, the San Jose Sharks have made it a series, trailing the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2. The Penguins missed an opportunity to win the Cup on home ice and don't want that to happen again.
Game 6 is at SAP Center in San Jose, but 16,000 fans pack Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh and watch the game inside the arena and outside on big screens hoping to see their team win the Cup for the first time since 2009.
"For the first time all playoffs, you feel like you have something to lose," Penguins forward Matt Cullen says prior to the game. "That's the hard part about winning the Stanley Cup. There is so much mentally that goes into it."
His coach, Mike Sullivan, tries to fire up the team.
"Here we are again knocking on the door," Sullivan says. "And the way we have to do it is we have to play fast and fearless. Penguins hockey."
In the other locker room, Sharks coach Peter DeBoer addresses his team.
"It's time for us to make a statement about who we are in this series tonight," he says prior to puck drop.
Game 6 underway
The Sharks hope for a fast start like they had in Game 5, but it's the Penguins who take a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal from the point by defenseman Brian Dumoulin halfway through the first period. The Penguins continue to apply pressure, but Sharks goalie Martin Jones answers every shot on goal with a save, keeping it a 1-0 game after the first period.
Logan Couture, the League-leader in scoring in the playoffs, gets the Sharks on the board in the second period to tie the game 1-1 but the joy in San Jose is short-lived; Penguins defenseman Kris Letang scores 79 seconds later.
Chris Kunitz and Evgeni Malkin have a great chance with a 2-on-1, but Kunitz elects to pass to Malkin instead of shooting into what looks like a vacant net and a sure goal. The score remains 2-1 after the second period with 20 minutes remaining in what could be the last game of the season.
The Sharks can't muster many chances offensively and don't have an answer for the Penguins' speed. When Patric Hornqvist scores an empty-net goal with 1:02 remaining to give Pittsburgh a 3-1 lead, the crowd at SAP Center hushes and those who have packed Consol Energy Center begin to celebrate.
Penguins are champions again
The horn sounds and the game ends. Sticks and gloves fly in the air and Penguins goalie Matt Murray is buried under a sea of joyous teammates. It's Pittsburgh's first title since the 2008-09 season.
The deflated Sharks, who had the best season in their 25-year history, salute their crowd who appreciates what they have accomplished, even though they fell two wins short of the ultimate goal.
The Sharks and Penguins shake hands, before the Penguins celebrate more.
"You played unbelievable. Unbelievable," Sullivan says to his forward Nick Bonino.
"You coached pretty good, too," Bonino replies back.
Crosby and the Cup
The Stanley Cup makes its way to center ice. Before accepting the trophy, Sidney Crosby accepts the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"It's the hardest trophy in all of sports to win," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says. "It's the captain's honor to hoist the Stanley Cup. Sidney Crosby, come on back!"
Crosby, Malkin, Bonino, Sullivan and others are shown lifting the Cup before the Penguins gather around it for a team photo.
Locker room celebration
The champagne flows in the Penguins locker room and the players sing and celebrate more than nine months of hard work, the season which began in September with training camp now over in June.
"I just knew we were going to win," Sullivan says. "The whole third period, I knew we were going to win. I could feel it. I could feel it on the bench. … And I knew it. I knew they were going to get it done."
Sharks come up just short
San Jose couldn't top Pittsburgh, but there are encouraging signs to come out of its season.
"The end is like hitting a wall," DeBoer says addressing reporters after the game. "We've been going since September we showed up here and 106 games and how many hundreds of thousands of miles in the air and travel. It's a special group but only one team can win, but that doesn't take anything away from what those guys accomplished."
The players are obviously disappointed, but hundreds of fans are outside the arena to greet them when they leave. Most players stop and sign autographs before departing for the offseason.
Bye bye to Crosby's beard
With the Stanley Cup by his side, Crosby uses an electric razor to get rid of his playoff beard, grown over the past two months once the postseason began.
"I forgot what that felt like," a clean-shaven Crosby says.
After sleeping (or not sleeping), Crosby takes the Cup to the hotel dining room and places it on the center of a table as the team has breakfast.
Back to Pittsburgh
The Penguins make the cross-country flight back home, with coaches and players dwelling on the season.
"There have been so many people along the way that have been part of their hockey life or their family life that have helped them get to this point, and it's the pinnacle of a players life," Sullivan says, reflecting on the season.
The Penguins enjoy a victory parade in the streets of Pittsburgh with Crosby getting serenaded with chants of "MVP! MVP!" as he hoists the Cup in the back of a car.
"We wouldn't be standing here if it wasn't for the support of you fans," Sullivan says to the crowd. "All I can say is, let's do this again next year."
The episode will also be available across multiple television and streaming providers' devices, websites, applications, Facebook pages, and free On Demand channels.
An encore presentation of the episode will air Friday, June 17, at 11 p.m. ET on Sportsnet in Canada. For a worldwide listing of air dates and times, check listings here.