The Penguins franchise will hit another historic milestone when the puck drops Wednesday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The game will be the 300th-consecutive sell out. In honor of the achievement, here's a look back at some of the best moments during the streak.
Feb. 14, 2007
With all intents and purposes Feb. 14, 2007 was a typical hockey game day between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks. What the Penguins didn’t realize at the time was that the date would go down as a historic moment. When PA announcer John Barbero announced a sold out crowd of 17,051, no one knew that those words – “sold out” – would be attached to the next 299-consective attendance announcements. The Penguins rewarded that first sellout crowd with a remarkable performance. Pittsburgh received a game-tying goal late in the third period from rookie center Evgeni Malkin to force overtime. Malkin and teammate Erik Christensen both beat Blackhawks goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin in the shootout to seal a 5-4 victory.
“Your Pittsburgh Penguins will remain right here in Pittsburgh where they belong.”
March 13, 2007
The Penguins experienced several dark seasons in the late 90s and early 2000s. The franchise filed for bankruptcy, it failed to sell the team to new ownership and it struggled to reach an agreement on a new arena deal. Penguins fans went through several years of painful uncertainty, but all of that anxiety disappeared when owner/Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux stepped onto the ice after reaching an agreement with the city and state to build a new arena and said, “Tonight, I’m proud to announce that your Pittsburgh Penguins will remain right here in Pittsburgh where they belong.”
What Would Gary Roberts Do?
Game 1 of 2008 ECQF vs. Ottawa
In the 2007 playoffs, the Ottawa Senators easily dispatched of the Penguins in five games. In a rematch the following year, one veteran Penguin helped turn the tables. The legend of Gary Roberts grew as the 42-year-old, whom the Senators had tried to acquire the year before, scored two power-play goals and dominated the Sens both physically and mentally en route to a 4-0 Pittsburgh win, and staked his own place in Penguins’ lore as a folk hero. Roberts and the Penguins went on to sweep the Sens in four games.
Game 1 of 2008 ECSF vs. NY Rangers
Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals was unmarked territory for most of Pittsburgh’s budding young stars, but it didn’t take too long to settle in. After surrendering the first three goals of the game, Pittsburgh scored four unanswered scores to take a 4-3 lead, but only briefly. It would take a Malkin tip-in with less than two minutes remaining for Pittsburgh to get the victory in dramatic fashion and take a 1-0 lead in the series. The victory signified to the fans, and to the hockey world, that the Penguins were a surging force to be reckoned with.
Game 1 of 2008 ECF vs. Philadelphia
The Penguins held a 3-2 lead in the second period of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final matchup with rival Philadelphia. The Flyers were on a power play and threatening to tie the game. The fate of the series was determined by one sequence on the ice. Ten seconds after being derailed into the end boards by Flyers center Mike Richards, Malkin received a breakout pass in the neutral zone from defenseman Sergei Gonchar. Malkin skated in all alone and rifled a slap shot past Philadelphia goaltender Martin Biron and pandemonium ensued in Mellon Arena. The Penguins held on for a 4-2 victory in the game.
Stanley Cup Return
Game 5 of 2008 ECF vs. Philadelphia
Pittsburgh clinched their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final since 1992 with a convincing 6-0 domination over Philadelphia. In fitting fashion, Pittsburgh native Ryan Malone scored two goals, including the game-winner. The victory epitomized the resurgence for a franchise that was the worst in the Eastern Conference just two seasons before. The only thing better than a return to the Cup Final was beating the cross-state rival Flyers thoroughly to get there.
Game 2 of the 2009 ECF vs. Carolina
Just weeks before Malkin was awarded with the Conn Smythe trophy as the Stanley Cup playoffs’ Most Valuable Player, Malkin put on an absolute show in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final vs. Carolina. Malkin completely took over the game and scored three goals to help put the Penguins up 2-0 in the series, including a backhand goal for the hat trick that still may be the best goal of his illustrious career. On the play, Malkin won the faceoff in the offensive zone forward – a faceoff play named “The Geno.” He retrieved the puck, darted around the net and snapped a spinning backhand shot that sailed over the shoulder of goaltender Cam Ward. His celebration afterward is priceless.
Staal Rocks the House
Game 4 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Final vs. Detroit
Down 2-1 in both the series and the game, the Penguins needed a spark. With the Red Wings on the power play and on the brink of grabbing hold of a two-goal lead, Jordan Staal responded. Staal raced through the neutral zone with the puck, shielded Red Wings defenseman Brian Rafalski with his off hand and then flipped a puck with his forehand past Chris Osgood. The shorthanded goal lifted Mellon Arena into a noise level unseen since the Cup days of the early 90s.
Oct. 2, 2009
Members of the 119th-consecutive sellout were treated to seeing the Penguins’ 2008-09 Stanley Cup banner raised into the rafters, in the last season opener at Mellon Arena. Before the Penguins played division rival NY Rangers, hundreds of fans again sat outside the arena and watched on the big screen, as so many did just four months before to watch the Penguins clinch their first Stanley Cup Final win in 16 years. A spectacular pre-game ceremony featured a highlight video of Pittsburgh’s championship run and a dramatic unveiling of the Stanley Cup at center ice.
April 11, 2010
It was a fitting regular-season finale at Mellon Arena, as Sidney Crosby recorded four points, including his 500th-career point, as the Penguins beat the New York Islanders, 7-3. Over 50 Penguins alumni returned for a pre-game ceremony to close out the building, including Lemieux, Paul Coffey, Bryan Trottier, Craig Patrick, Larry Murphy, Jean Pronovost, Syl Apps and Dave Burrows. Crosby and Malkin gave the Igloo a fitting sendoff in front of the greats who brought the fans out of the seats for so many seasons over the arena’s 42-NHL seasons.
Destiny Has a New Home
Oct. 7, 2010
It took several years and a lot of hard work by many people, but in 2010 the Penguins opened their brand-new state-of-the-art facility CONSOL Energy Center. Penguins players walked the red carpet before the game, and the new arena was christened by Lemieux before puck drop. The building went dark and then a spotlight lit up center ice, where Lemieux stood. The crowd erupted as Lemieux dumped melted ice from the old Mellon Arena surface onto the new arena’s center ice. Though the Philadelphia Flyers, who eventually won the game 3-2, ruined the Penguins first-ever game at CONSOL Energy Center, the contest marked the beginning of a new era for the Penguins.
Welcome Back Sid
Nov. 21, 2011
Sidney Crosby missed 10 months of hockey while recovering from a concussion. The Penguins faithful eagerly awaiting his return, and it finally came Nov. 21, 2011 against the New York Islanders. The standing-room only crowd of 18,571 showed their support of the captain with signs reading “Welcome Back Sid.” Crosby dazzled the fans in attendance that night, scoring twice and assisting on two Penguins’ goals for four points en route to a 5-0 victory. In typical Crosby fashion, he scored a marvelous goal by splitting two Islanders defensemen before roofing a backhand shot into the net and screaming in a cathartic celebration.
NHL’s Best Fans
Thousands gather outside the arena and wear white inside to support the Pens
What began with a couple hundred fans the first couple times turned into thousands hailing to the grounds outside Mellon Arena and then CONSOL Energy Center to watch playoff games on the big screen. Streets were closed down during the Stanley Cup Final so fans could setup lawn chairs and couches and enjoy the playoff atmosphere without needing a ticket. A sea of white engulfed the inside of the arena as the fans showed their unity in the “White Out.” The Penguins put together a special collection of players on the ice, but what has made the last few years so remarkable has been the special collection of fans and their support and passion for the team off the ice. Hitting 300-consecutive sellouts is just another testament that the Penguins have the best fans in the NHL. Make that 300 and counting…
What are your favorite memories from the streak?