Our “On This Day” series continues today with a look at Game 2 of the 1991 Stanley Cup Final.
The Penguins teams from 80’s and 90’s were highlighted by one of the greatest players to ever step foot on an ice hockey rink. And while the early years of the Mario Lemieux era weren’t filled with postseason glory, the script was flipped by 1991 and it was time for Lemieux and the Penguins to become an NHL powerhouse.
The Penguins actually began the 1990-91 season without Lemieux, as he would miss the first half of the season recovering from a back injury that he suffered in a game against the New York Rangers towards the end of the previous season. The injury wouldn’t be enough of a hindrance to stop the team, however. Pittsburgh finished with a record of 41–33–6, good for 1st place in the Patrick Division.
Fast forward through the playoffs and Pittsburgh would face the Minnesota North Stars in the Stanley Cup Final. Minnesota rode a hot streak through their playoff run and it even continued with a 5-4 victory in Game 1 of the Cup Final, but the Penguins tied the series in Game 2. It was this Game 2 would become etched in the history books.
One of the most famous goals in NHL history and arguably his greatest goal was the one Lemieux scored in the second period of this second game.
The puck was on the stick of the Ol’ Two-Niner, Phil Bourque, and Lemieux gave Bourque the signal to get him the puck. Mario then skated all by himself into the North Stars’ zone facing Shawn Chambers, Neil Wilkinson and the goalie, Jon Casey. Surely with two defensemen and a goalie, they’d be able to stop one man entering their zone...
Poor Chambers and Casey were undressed and embarrassed in mere seconds.
With the goal, the Penguins would go on to win the game by a score of 4-1 and earn the franchise its first-ever Stanley Cup Final game victory.
The North Stars would win Game 3, but the Pens would respond with a Game 4 win to tie the series as it returned to Pittsburgh. Game 5 was taken by the Penguins, with the team winning 6-4 to take a 3-2 series lead, and in Game 6, Pittsburgh would thrash Minnesota 8-0 to win the series, and give the organization its first of five Stanley Cups.
Unsurprisingly, Lemieux won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP by recording 44 points in 23 games.
And, of course, the Penguins would return to the Stanley Cup Final the following year to dispatch of the Chicago Blackhawks in a 4-game sweep to win their second of back-to-back Stanley Cups. Lemieux would also win his second Conn Smythe Trophy in as many years, as he notched 34 points in 15 playoff games.
What’s your favorite Mario memory? Share it and any other fun times you may have had watching the early 90’s Penguins down in the comments!