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On This Date in Sports June 1, 1992: Pittsburgh Repeats

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

The Pittsburgh Penguins win their second straight Stanley Cup, completing a four-game sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks with a 6-5 win at Chicago Stadium. The Blackhawks had come into the finals with a record 11-straight playoff wins. The Penguins would equal that record with the sweep. Mario Lemieux would also win a second straight Conn Smythe with 16 goals and 18 assists in 15 games in the postseason.

After winning their first Stanley Cup by beating the Minnesota North Stars in six games, the Pittsburgh Penguins dealt with tragedy. While working for Team USA in the lead-up to the Canada Cup Tournament, Penguins Coach Bob Johnson was hospitalized with a brain aneurysm. It was later discovered that he had brain cancer. Badger Bob kept in contact with the Penguins by videotape and phone to send messages to his team, while Hall of Famer Scotty Bowman kept his seat warm. Sadly, Bob Johnson passed away on November 26, 1991, with the Penguins dedicating the season to his memory. The Penguins would wear a patch in his memory as his favorite statement. "It's a Great Day for Hockey" was painted by the blue lines.

With Scotty Bowman behind the bench, the Penguins finished third in the Patrick Division with a record of 39-32-9. Things got off to a rough start for Pittsburgh in the playoffs as they fell behind the Washington Capitals 3-1 in the first round, losing 7-2 on their home ice in Game 4. With Bob Errey scoring twice, the Penguins got back on track with a 5-2 win at the Cap Centre, while Mario Lemieux and Kevin Stevens each scored twice in Game 6 as the Penguins won 6-4 to force a seventh game. The Penguins would complete the comeback with a 3-1 win in Landover in Game 7. In the Patrick Division Finals against the President Trophy-winning New York Rangers, the Penguins again fell behind, losing Game 3 at home in overtime 6-5. Things began to look bleak in Game 4, as Mario Lemieux suffered a broken wrist on a slash from Adam Graves, as the Penguins trailed 4-2 in the third period. A big shot from center ice got Pittsburgh back on track as Ron Francis stunned goalie Mike Richter. Troy Loney tied the game 75 seconds later as the Rangers benched Richter in favor of John Vanbiesnrouck. In overtime, Francis completed the Hat Trick to even the series with a 5-4 win. Without Lemieux, the Penguins would win the next two games to take the series in six games, getting big goals from Jaromir Jagr and c. Mario Lemieux returned for Game 2 in the Wales Conference Finals and scored twice, while Kevin Stevens netted four goals in Game 3 as the Penguins swept away the Boston Bruins.

The Chicago Blackhawks, coached by Mike Kennan, also came into the Stanley Cup on a roll. A year after a stunning first-round exit against the North Stars, the Blackhawks finished second in the Norris Division with a record of 36-29-15. In the first round, the Blackhawks again looked to be in trouble, as they were down 2-1 against the St. Louis Blues. Powered by a critical goal from Brian Noonan, Chicago scored a 5-3 win in Game 4 to even the series and won the series in six games. The Blackhawks would blow past the Detroit Red Wings in four straight the Norris Division Finals and swept the Edmonton Oilers in the Campbell Conference Finals to reach the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1973.

Both teams came into the Stanley Cup Finals streaking, with the Chicago Blackhawks winning a record 11-straight games while the Pittsburgh Penguins had won seven straight. Due to a brief work stoppage late in the season, this would be the first Stanley Cup Finals to have games played in June. The Blackhawks got off to a fast start in Game 1, taking a 3-0 lead in the first period and holding a 4-1 lead in the second. Pittsburgh began to come back with goals from Rick Tocchet and Mario Lemieux. In the third, with under five minutes left, the Penguins tied the game on a goal by Jaromir Jagr. As time was winding down in regulation, the Penguins would nearly blow the roof off the Civic Center on a power-play goal by Mario Lemieux with 13 seconds left for a 5-4 win. Super Mario added a pair of goals in a 3-1 win in Game 2, as Pittsburgh took a 2-0 series lead. 

Game 3, in Chicago, would be a battle of the goalies as Tom Barrasso made 27 saves to outduel Eddie Belfour while Kevin Stevens scored the game's lone goal in a 1-0 win. In Game 4, the Blackhawks looking for a jumpstart, benched Belfour in favor of Dominik Hasek. While Dirk Graham did all he could to keep the Blackhawks' hopes alive with a first-period hat trick. However, the Penguins matched with goals by Jagr, Stevens, and Lemieux. The Penguins got a goal from Tocchet in the second period, while Jeremy Roenick scored for Chicago. Belfour returned for the third period and allowed two goals and four shots as the Penguins took a 6-4 lead on goals by Larry Murphy and Ron Francis. Roenick answered for Chicago, but the Blackhawks could not get the equalizer as the Penguins completed the sweep with a 6-4 win.

Mario Lemieux would repeat as Playoff MVP, winning the Conn Smythe Award, with a postseason-best 34 points with 16 goals and 18 assists in 15 games. The Penguins would pay one final tribute to their late coach as they engraved his name on the Stanley Cup for the second year in a row.