SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks had just finished going through the handshake line with the Pittsburgh Penguins after a 3-1, Game 6 loss Sunday that ended the Stanley Cup Final when the chants began at SAP Center.
"Let's go Sharks! Let's go Sharks! Let's go Sharks!"
San Jose's dreams of winning the Stanley Cup went unfulfilled, but the team will be remembered for reaching the Final for the first time in the Sharks' 25-year history.
"A special group," San Jose coach Peter DeBoer said. "But only one team can win. That doesn't take anything away from what those guys accomplished. I don't think anyone should ever question the leadership or the character or the will of the group of men in there. I think it's been misplaced for a decade.
"I would hope they answered some questions. Let's be honest. Not many people had us making the playoffs. Not many people had us beating [the Los Angeles Kings in the first round]. On an on. I thought a lot of questions were answered by that group."
The Sharks defeated the Kings, Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues to win the Western Conference, and center Joe Thornton liked their chances against Pittsburgh.
"We thought we had the team, going through the teams we did in the West," Thornton said. "It's just tough right now. ... They're a great team. That's why they're hoisting this trophy up right now."
Center Logan Couture scored San Jose's goal Sunday and led the NHL with 30 points in the playoffs, a Sharks record.
"I tried as hard as I could," he said. "I can't sit here and say I didn't leave everything on the ice. I tried my hardest."
For all that the Sharks accomplished, Couture said he couldn't take anything positive away from the season, at least not when the emotions were so raw.
"I want to win, and I can't. Really, honestly, I can't," Couture said. "I'm disappointed that I lost. Unless you win it all, you can't sit back and say, 'Wow, that was a great season.' You've got to win."
The Sharks were outshot for the fifth time in sixth games, this time 27-19. They trailed 2-1 to start the third period but managed two shots on goal trying to catch up.
"Not good enough," Couture said. "We didn't get shots through from the point, we didn't create enough shots on goal."
The Sharks scored 12 goals in the series; the Penguins had 15. The teams were tied or within one goal for 89 percent of playing time (333:54 of 374:53), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
"You have to give full credit to Pittsburgh," DeBoer said. "I thought they came out and played a [heck] of a series. They played their game for much longer stretches than we were able to. They dictated the play. They started quicker than us. That's the reason they're holding the Cup.
"On our end, I'm very proud of our group. I thought our guys emptied the tank, gave us everything they possibly could. We weren't as good as them during this two-week period."
The Sharks had trouble handling the Penguins' superior skating.
"Their speed, the pressure they put on with their speed," DeBoer said. "It's not just their speed. They have good sticks too. They force you into quicker decisions. They really challenge your execution. We hadn't seen pressure and sticks like that through the first three rounds. I think our execution was an issue because of that."
Sharks defenseman Brent Burns said he was disappointed for himself, his teammates and the fans.
"This is just such an incredible city to play in," Burns said. "The building, it's great. They're unbelievable. They've been unbelievable all year. The last month and a half, two months, it was just another level in this building. They wanted it just as bad as us. It's tough not to do it."
by Eric Gilmore / NHL.com Correspondent