The Penguins fell short of their ultimate goal – the Stanley Cup.
Yet, the 2007-08 season certainly can be considered a huge success for this young hockey team.
Pittsburgh saw its season come to an end Wednesday night as the Red Wings held on for a 3-2 win in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. Detroit captured the Stanley Cup with the triumph.
“We left it out there,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. “Obviously, we wanted to make sure we left everything out there on the ice and we wanted to see what would happen. We got a chance and just couldn’t put it in.”
Indeed. The Penguins battled to the last second and nearly converted a chance to tie the contest at the buzzer.
“That’s the way it goes sometimes and someone has to lose,” Crosby said. “You have to give credit to the guys. We tried to leave it all out there and we came up short.”
The sold-out Mellon Arena crowd certainly appreciated the Penguins’ effort in Game 6 as well as all season long. The 17,132 fans chanted “Let’s go Pens! Let’s go Pens!” as the team headed off the ice for the final time this season.
“They have been great all year. We appreciate their support,” Crosby said. “It doesn’t make this loss any easier, for sure, but they stuck with us through the whole season and a long time before that. So, we appreciate everything they’ve done for us.
“It’s pretty tough. I had a fun time this season, but we have to remember this feeling, for sure.”
The Penguins want to turn the negative feelings of this defeat into some positive motivation for next season.
“I am real proud of our season. We made it far. We had a great, great effort all year. It hurts right now, though,” Penguins defenseman Ryan Whitney said. “It’s bad no matter what, but to be that close to tying it up and give such an effort we’ve given these past few games really makes it tough. No one wants to feel this feeling again. I don’t know if you have to lose before you win, but hopefully we’ve got that out of the way now.”
Despite the somber and empty feelings in the Penguins’ dressing room, there is plenty of hope for the future.
“One thing we learned is that it’s one team and we’re all together,” Penguins center Evgeni Malkin said through translator George Birman. “I am pretty sure we learned a lot from this season and hopefully it will roll over to next season. You have to be pretty good to end up where we are.”
Penguins owner Mario Lemieux believes the team will benefit greatly from the lessons learned this year.
“We have come a long way in the last three years. This team has come a long way in a short period of time,” he said. “We have the core of young kids to be with us for a long, long time. We feel this is a big step. It’s always disappointing not to win in the Final, but we feel we’ll be back and much better next time.”