With NHL Network set to show the Penguins first Stanley Cup win from back in 1991 against the Minnesota North Stars, now seems like a good time to look back and fondly remember the eight goal explosion that led the Penguins to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
The Penguins were the heavy favorites heading into this series but fell behind twice in the series by dropping Games 1 & 3 before reeling off three straight to win the Stanley Cup in six games. In a decisive Game 6, the Penguins loaded roster finally took over and put the overmatched North Stars out of their misery with a lopsided 8-0 victory.
Before we dig into the goals, let’s put this historic win in some perspective because it’s not every day you see a team notch eight goals in a Stanley Cup Final game, even during an era of higher scoring hockey.
Eight goals is tied for the third highest total in a Stanley Cup clinching game, the same amount the Edmonton Oilers dropped on the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 5 to win the 1985 Stanley Cup. Just ahead of the Penguins and Oilers is the 1917 Seattle Metropolitans squad who scored nine goals against the Montreal Canadiens to win the Cup. Leading the pack are the 1915 Vancouver Millionaires with a whopping 12 goals in their clinching victory over the Ottawa Senators.
That 1915 Vancouver team also holds the title for largest margin of victory in a Stanley Cup clinching game, winning 12-3 over the Senators. Tied for second are the 1917 Metropolitans (9-1 final score in clinching game) and the 1991 Penguins (8-0). The 1991 Penguins do hold the crown for largest shutout victory in a Stanley Cup clinching game.
Now that you understand just how lopsided and historic this victory turned out to be, let’s take a look at each of the goals individually.
Here is the video containing all eight goals if you want to watch them all at once. For every goal, the video will be time stamped and embedded in for easy watching.
1-0: Ulf Samuelsson, 1st Period, 2:00, PP
“Ulf Samuelsson” and “goal scoring” did not typically go together but they did on this night for the Penguins. One of the most unlikely sources of offense on the roster had the Penguins off and running with a harmless looking shot that found its way past North Star goaltender Jon Casey in the dying seconds of an early power play.
It wasn’t much at the time, but it turned out to be more than enough as Samuelsson added his name to the list of Stanley Cup winning goal scorers at night’s end.
2-0: Mario Lemieux, 1st Period, 12:19, SH
With the Penguins clinging to their early 1-0 lead, they had to kill off an extended 5-on-3 with Kevin Stevens and Gordie Roberts taking penalties just 34 seconds apart. It became a 5-on-4 following a penalty to Mike Modano and Mario Lemieux hit the ice to deliver an absolute gut punch of a shorthanded goal.
Lemieux used his speed to eliminate any hope for the defenseman then deked Casey into next season. Elite level outlet pass from Larry Murphy to spring No. 66 from deep in his own end.
3-0: Joe Mullen, 1st Period, 13:14, PP
Once the remaining penalty time for Roberts was up, it was the Penguins turn on the power play. It was only a brief 18 seconds, but the Penguins made it count with Joe Mullen getting the marker to make it a three goal lead still in the first period of play.
In the span of 2:15, the North Stars went from trailing 1-0 and having an extended 5-on-3 advantage to trailing 3-0 and seeing all hope of forcing a decisive Game 7 evaporate before their eyes.
This was also the end for starting goaltender Jon Casey, at least temporarily.
4-0: Bob Errey, 2nd Period, 13:15
After falling behind 3-0, the North Stars could have folded and let the floodgates wide open the rest of the way. Instead, they kept the Penguins off the scoreboard for a whole 20 minutes of game clock before Bob Errey made it 4-0 for the good guys.
Brian Hayward was now in the crease for the North Stars but he faced the same fate as Casey before him.
5-0: Ron Francis, 2nd Period, 14:28
Turnovers in the neutral zone will kill you, especially when you opponent has eight future Hall of Famers on the roster. This time a pair of them team up to get the fat lady warming up. Joe Mullen creates the turnover then pushes it ahead to a streaking Ron Francis who buries the shot past Hayward with ease. Rout is on.
If you don’t believe me about the eight future Hall of Famers you can go count yourself. They are Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr (not in yet but inevitable), Paul Coffey, Larry Murphy, Bryan Trottier, Ron Francis, Joe Mullen, and Mark Recchi.
6-0: Joe Mullen, 2nd Period, 18:44
So, about those floodgates. Joe Mullen keeps piling on the goals with this second of the game off a breakaway snipe. Mullen is sent in alone courtesy an absolutely ridiculous back hand pass by Kevin Stevens. A normally loud North Stars crowd can now only sit in stunned silence and what has transpired on this night.
If you watch the full video, you will see that this Mullen dagger comes on the heels of an absolutely brutal check from behind against Mark Recchi that angered the Penguins and warranted a response from Mario.
7-0: Jim Paek, 3rd Period, 1:29
Jim Paek was a trailblazer his entire career as the first Korean to play in the NHL starting this season. He became the first Korean to score in the Stanley Cup playoffs and Final with this goal and went on to win back-to-back Stanley Cups with the Penguins.
Most recently, Paek led his native South Korea as head coach at the 2018 Winter Olympics in his home country.
8-0: Larry Murphy, 3rd Period, 13:45, PP
It started with a defenseman on the power play in the first period and it ended with a defenseman on the power play in the third period. This time it was from a much more expected source with Larry Murphy putting the icing on the cake off a feed from Lemieux.
Note the North Stars goaltender here. After being pulled for giving up three goals early, Jon Casey returns to the net to replace Hayward and gives up a fourth goal. I’m not sure there is anything more deflating than giving up three goals, watching your backup give up four, then replacing him only to give up another.
FINAL: Penguins win 8-0 and win the Stanley Cup
After 60 minutes of play and eight goals past a pair of North Stars goaltenders, the final horn sounds to send the Penguins players spilling over the bench in celebration of the franchise’s first Stanley Cup title.
While it’s easy to focus on the scoring from this game, the strong play from goaltender Tom Barrasso should also be noted. Barrasso had plenty of help from his offense, but he still stopped all 39 North Stars shots en route to the shutout.
As a reminder, the NHL Network will show this game in full starting at 10 AM this morning. If you can’t catch it live or don’t have NHL Network on your television, there is a condensed two hour version currently available on YouTube.
Here’s to hoping the Penguins get the chance to add a sixth Stanley Cup title at some point this summer.
Stay safe and enjoy your Wednesday, everyone.