The 2016 Stanley Cup Finals was the championship series of the National Hockey League (NHL)'s 2015–16 season, and the culmination of the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs. This was the 123rd year of the Stanley Cup's presentation. The Eastern Conference champion Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Western Conference champion San Jose Sharks four games to two to win their fourth championship in franchise history (all of them on the road). The Penguins had home ice advantage in the series, being the club with the better regular season record. The series began on May 30, 2016 and concluded on June 12, 2016. This was the first Stanley Cup Final since 2007 to feature a team making their first appearance in the Finals in their club history.
The Eastern Conference team had home-ice advantage in the Final in consecutive seasons for the first time since the 2004 and 2006 Finals.
For the first time since 2011, an Eastern Conference team won the Stanley Cup and that neither the Chicago Blackhawks nor the Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup.
This was Pittsburgh's fifth Finals appearance, the first since winning the Cup in 2009, and 25 years after their first Stanley Cup winning season in 1991. Since their win in 2009, the Penguins lost in the Conference Finals in 2013 in four games to the Boston Bruins and were eliminated twice by the New York Rangers in 2014 and 2015.
The Penguins made major trades during the off-season, receiving forwards Phil Kessel and Nick Bonino to improve their offense. Pittsburgh entered the 2015–16 season re-signing defenceman Olli Maatta and forward Bryan Rust. In free agency, the Penguins were able to sign centres Matt Cullen and Eric Fehr. During the season, the Penguins fired their coach Mike Johnston on December 12, 2015 after compiling a 15–10–3 record. Pittsburgh replaced him with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins coach Mike Sullivan who went 33–16–5. The Penguins made three major trades before the trade deadline, receiving defenceman Trevor Daley, Justin Schultz and forward Carl Hagelin. After goalie Marc-Andre Fleury suffered a concussion on April 2, the team turned to rookie Matt Murray for the final week of the regular season and throughout the playoffs.
Pittsburgh earned 104 points (48 wins, 26 losses, and eight overtime losses) during the regular season to finish second in the Metropolitan Division. Centre and team captain Sidney Crosby led the club in scoring during the regular season and finished third in the league with 85 points.
In the playoffs, the Penguins eliminated the New York Rangers in five games, after being defeated consecutively by them in 2014 and 2015, defeated the Presidents' Trophy-winning Washington Capitals in six games, and extinguished the defending Conference champion Tampa Bay Lightning in the Conference Final in seven games.
This was San Jose's first Finals appearance in their 25-year history.
During the off-season the Sharks hired former New Jersey Devils head coach Peter DeBoer to replace Todd McLellan. The Sharks also traded for goalie Martin Jones, the former Los Angeles Kings backup goalie. The Sharks also picked up defenceman Paul Martin and right wingers Joel Ward and Dainius Zubrus via free agency. Before the trade deadline, the Sharks acquired forward Nick Spaling, defenceman Roman Polak as well as goalie James Reimer to improve defensively.
San Jose earned 98 points (46 wins, 30 losses, six overtime losses) to finish third in the Pacific Division. Centre Joe Thornton led the club in scoring with 82 points, and finished tied for fourth in the League, followed closely by centre and team captain Joe Pavelski with 78 points and defenceman Brent Burns with 75 points.
In the playoffs, San Jose avenged their previous loss to the Los Angeles Kings in 2014, in which they gave up a 3–0 series lead, by defeating the Kings in five games. San Jose also eliminated the Nashville Predators in seven games, winning every home game in the series, then defeated the St. Louis Blues in the Conference Final in six games.
Number in parentheses represents the player's total goals or assists to that point of the entire four rounds of the playoffs
In game one, it remained scoreless until both Bryan Rust and Conor Sheary scored a minute apart for the Penguins midway in the first period. San Jose came back in the second period with a power play goal by Tomas Hertl at 3:02 and the tying goal by Patrick Marleau at 18:12. The score remained tied 2–2 through most of the third period even with the Penguins firing off 18 shots on goal and it appeared that the game would go into overtime. However, Nick Bonino's goal at 17:27 gave the Penguins the lead, after receiving a pass from Kris Letang that went past the Sharks' defencemen Brent Burns (who had just moments earlier lost his stick) and Paul Martin. The Penguins held off the Sharks in the final minutes to take game one 3–2.
In game two, eleven and six shots were taken for the Penguins and Sharks respectively in the first period, but no goals were scored. In the second period, a series of mistakes led to a Penguins goal starting first with defenceman Roman Polak of the Sharks almost giving it away to Phil Kessel, then Brenden Dillon got stripped of the puck by Carl Hagelin who gave it to Nick Bonino for a tip-in by Kessel. The Sharks were able to tie the game late in the third on a goal by Justin Braun to send the game into overtime. Early in overtime, a quick shot by Conor Sheary got past the Sharks goaltender Martin Jones to give the Penguins a 2–0 series lead.
In game three, Ben Lovejoy started off the scoring at 5:29 of the first period after his shot got deflected in off Sharks defenceman Roman Polak. The Sharks tied it up at 9:34 on Justin Braun's goal after receiving a pass from Joe Thornton. The Penguins got their second lead of the game in the second period with Ben Lovejoy's point shot being tipped in off forward Patric Hornqvist's stick. In the third period, Penguins forward Nick Bonino high-sticked Thornton (resulting in some blood being spilled) causing a four-minute power play for the Sharks. In the dying seconds of the power play, Joel Ward fired a slap shot that got past Matt Murray. In overtime, Joonas Donskoi fired a shot that went high over Murray into the net for the game winner.
The Penguins scored first for the seventh consecutive game; at 7:36 of the first period, after receiving a pass from Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel sped into the Sharks zone and fired a shot that rebounded off Martin Jones onto Ian Cole's stick for his first playoff goal. In the second period, Sharks forward Melker Karlsson got called for interference against Eric Fehr and on the ensuing power play, Malkin tipped in a shot by Kessel for the Penguins' second goal. During the third period, Karlsson was able to cut the deficit to one at 8:07. However, the Penguins were able to regain a two-goal lead with 2:02 left when Carl Hagelin received a chip pass from Olli Maatta then gave it to Eric Fehr who fired a snap shot past Jones.
In game five, four goals were scored in the first 5:06 of the game. Brent Burns started the scoring at 1:04 slipping it past the Penguins goaltender on the right post after receiving a pass from Melker Karlsson. For the Sharks, it was their first lead in the Finals during regulation. At 2:53, the Sharks scored their second goal; this time Logan Couture scored the goal, deflecting a shot by Justin Braun. Less than two minutes later, Sharks forward Dainius Zubrus got called for a delay of game after shooting the puck over the glass. On the ensuing power play, Evgeni Malkin's shot got deflected off Braun's skate, cutting the deficit to 2–1. Twenty-two seconds later, Brenden Dillon gave away the puck to Nick Bonino who shot it on goal then getting deflected in by Carl Hagelin. In the middle of the first period on the power play, the Penguins shot once on the crossbar and Phil Kessel's shot went off both posts but stayed out. Later in the period, Dillon passed down low for Couture who sauced a backhand pass for Karlsson's goal to regain the lead for the Sharks. The Sharks then played defensively throughout the second and third period with goaltender Martin Jones stopping all 31 shots. Joe Pavelski provided an empty-net goal to force a sixth game.
In game six, Brian Dumoulin started the scoring for Pittsburgh on the power play, taking a pass from Justin Schultz and Chris Kunitz. In the second period, San Jose tied it up as Logan Couture took a pass from Melker Karlsson and fired a shot past Matt Murray. A little over a minute later though, Pittsburgh took the lead again as a shot by Kris Letang ricocheted off Sharks goaltender Martin Jones into the net. The Penguins played defensively in the third period, limiting the shots by the Sharks to two. The Penguins got an empty-net goal by Patric Hornqvist as insurance. The Pittsburgh Penguins won their fourth Stanley Cup in their franchise history, winning all on the road.
The 2016 Stanley Cup was presented to Penguins captain Sidney Crosby by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman following the Penguins' 3–1 win over the Sharks in game six.1 Played both centre and wing.
Coaching and Administrative Staff:
Mario Lemieux (Chairman/Co-Owner/Alt. Governor), Ronald Burkle (Co-Owner/Alt. Governor), William Kassling (Co-Onwer/Alt. Governor),
David Morehouse (President/Governor), Travis Williams (Chief Operating Officer/Alt. Governor), Jim Rutherford (Exe. Vice President/General Manager),
Jason Botterill (Asst. General Manager), Bill Guerin (Asst. General Manager), Jason Karmanos (Vice President of Hockey Operations),
Mark Recchi (Player Development Coach), Mike Sullivan (Head Coach), Jacques Martin (Asst. Coach),
Rick Tocchet (Asst. Coach), Mike Bales (Goaltending Coach), Andy Saucier (Video Coach),
Dr. Dharmesh Vyas (Head Team Physician), Chris Stewart (Athletic Trainer), Curtis Bell (Asst. Athletic Trainer),
Patrick Steidle (Asst. Athletic Trainer), Andy O'Brien (Director of Sport Science & Performance), Alex Trinca (Strength & Conditioning Coach),
Dana Heinze (Equipment Manager), Ted Richards (Asst. Equipment Manager), Jon Taglianetti (Asst. Equipment Manager),
Jim Britt (Director of Team Operations), Dan MacKinnon (Director of Player Personnel), Randy Sexton (Director of Amateur Scouting), Derek Clancey (Director of Pro Scouting).
Pittsburgh broke the 1938 Chicago Black Hawks' record of eight US born players with ten US born players on the Stanley Cup winning team: Nick Bonino, Ian Cole, Matt Cullen, Brian Dumoulin, Phil Kessel, Ben Lovejoy, Kevin Porter, Bryan Rust, Conor Sheary, and Jeff Zatkoff. An 11th player Beau Bennett who was left off was also American (see below)Player Notes;
#30 Matt Murray Goalie - only played 13 games, dressed for 32 regular season games for Pittsburgh. He also played 31 games in minors. He was recalled to NHL because of Marc-Andre Fleury's injury. Qualified for playing 22 playoff games, winning a rookie-tying 15 playoff games.
#4 Justin Schultz Defence - played 45 for Edmonton, 18 regular season games, and 15 playoff games for Pittsburgh - qualifies for playing in the finals.
#9 Pascal Dupuis Winger - only played 18 games and forced to retire on Dec. 8 because of several blood clots - Was given injury exemption and included on the Cup.
#11 Kevin Porter Centre - played 41 games. He missed the last 19 regular season games, all 24 playoff games due to an ankle surgery - was included on the Cup, qualified.
#37 Jeff Zatkoff Goalie - played 14 games, dressed for 59 games. He also dressed for the first 7 playoff games because of Marc-Andre Fleury being injured. He also played the first two games with 1 win and a loss due to Matt Murray being injured. Was given an exemption for spending the whole season with Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh included the head team physician for the first on the Stanley Cup. In 1991-92-2009 Dr. Charles Burke was not engraved on the Stanley Cup.
Included on the team picture, but left off the Stanley Cup.#19 Beau Bennett Winger American - played 33 regular season games, and 1 game in the conference finals. He missed 50 regular season and 15 playoff games due an upper body injury. Was not included. Pittsburgh did not requested an injury exemption for Bennett. He was first California born player awarded a Stanley Cup ring.
#51 Derrick Pouliot Defence - 22 regular season and 2 playoff games (games 3 & 4 in round 2). He also played 37 games in the minors. Was not included.
#40 Oskar Sundqvist Centre, Winger - played 18 regular season, 2 playoff games (game 1 of Round 1 and game 4 of Round 2), and 45 games in minors. Was not included.
#23 Scott Wilson - Winger - played 24 regular season, 34 games in the minors. Suffered a season-ending injury and missed the entire playoffs. Was not included.
#35 Tristan Jarry Goalie - He was recalled on April 9. Jarry dressed in the first 2 playoff games because Matt Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury were both injured. He was then sent back to the minors April 19 and recalled May 19. Was not included, because he had not played in the NHL. All players listed above received Stanley Cup rings.
Gilles Meloche was Goaltending Coach on Pittsburgh 1st cups 1991-92-2009. His role was changed to Special Assignment Scout, so he was left off the Stanley Cup. Meloche was awarded his 4th Stanley Cup ring. Other scouts left off the cup, but got rings were Al Santili#, Ryan Bowness# (Pro Scouts), Colin Alexander#, Scott Bell#, Brain Fitzgerald#, Luc Gauthier#, Frank Golden#, Jay Heinbuck#, Wayne Meier#, Ron Pyette#. Casey Torres#, Warren Young# (Amateur Scouts), Patrick Alivin# (Head European Scout), Petri Pakaslahi#, Tommy Westlund# (European Scouts). There many other members of Pittsburgh who were also left off the cup, but still received Stanley Cup rings.
Players who were part of the 2009 and 2016 Stanley Cup wins:
- Engraved as players twice: Sidney Crosby, Marc-Andre Fleury, Chris Kunitz, Kris Letang, Evgeni Malkin and Pascal Dupuis (retired on Dec. 8, 2015)
- Engraved as player once: Ben Lovejoy (included on 2009 team picture but did not qualify to be on Cup that year)
- Engraved twice (including once as a player — in 2009): Bill Guerin (assistant general manager in 2016)
In the U.S., the Finals was split between NBC and NBCSN. NBCSN aired two games of the series while NBC aired the other five (if necessary). On May 27, NBC Sports announced that if the series was tied at 1-1 entering Game 3, then it would have aired on NBC and Game 4 televised on NBCSN. However, if one team led 2-0 (as this eventually happened), Game 3 moved to NBCSN and then Game 4 on NBC. The games were broadcast nationally on radio via the NBC Sports Radio network.
In Canada, the series aired on CBC Television (through Hockey Night in Canada, as produced by Sportsnet through a brokerage agreement) in English, and TVA Sports in French.