As the initial rush of free agency wears off and the doldrums of the NHL offseason begin to set in, news and content can be hard to come by. During an earlier break in the action this summer, we introduced a new segments where we recount moments from past Pittsburgh Penguins lore.
Our debut piece in this series published a few weeks ago and went back to 2016 to relive a terrorizing Chris Kunitz blunder that nearly put half of Pittsburgh into a local emergency room.
At the end of that piece, we solicitated ideas for future features, which leads us to where we are right now, sitting in a time machine, about to head back to 1992 as the Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks were facing off in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.
If you were alive and not a wee child back in 1992, then this game likely still sits fresh in your mind. Both the Penguins and Blackhawks entered the series red hot, the Penguins winners of eight straight while the Blackhawks had won 11 in-a-row.
At the outset, Game 1 belonged to the Blackhawks who dominated the Penguins, building a 3-0 lead in the first period then a 4-1 lead midway through the second. It was all Chicago and it looked for the second straight season the Penguins were going to drop Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on home ice.
Luckily for the Penguins, despite trailing and being badly outplayed, they still had a Hall of Fame roster that could battle back. Goals by Rick Tocchet and Mario Lemieux late in the second period cut into the deficit and had the Penguins trailing by just one heading in the final period of play.
This is where Jaromir Jagr and Lemeiux took over and authored one of the great moments in franchise history.
Still trailing 4-3 late in the third period, Jagr got the puck in the offensive zone but there were limited options for him after that. Surrounding him were three Chicago defenders with the other two blocking any path to the net.
Turns out, those defenders were merely traffic cones that Jagr simply needed to maneuver around to get a shot at net. A crafty bit of interference from Shawn McEachern bought Jagr just enough time to finish off one of the great goals of his Hall of Fame career and bring the Penguins level.
With the three goal deficit now erased, it looked like the Penguins had done enough to force overtime in Game 1. That was until the Blackhawks took an ill advised penalty with under 20 seconds left and gave the Penguins a face-off in the offensive zone.
Ron Francis did his job and won the draw back to Larry Murphy. Murphy followed up with a shot on net that goaltender Eddie Belfour successfully fought off and pushed away for a rebound. Unfortunately for Belfour, he pushed the rebound directly onto the stick of Mario Lemieux.
Lemiuex wasn’t missing and all Belfour could do is crumble to the ice as the Civic Arena crowd exploded. With just 13 second left on the clock, the Penguins completed one of the greatest comebacks in Stanley Cup history to stun the Blackhawks and steal Game 1.
That was the closest the Blackhawks came to a victory in this series as the Penguins won the next three to sweep the Final and win back-to-back Stanley Cups for the first time in franchise history.