Sidney Crosby was hailed as "The Next One" before he played his first NHL game 12 years ago and he more than lived up to the hype on Sunday when he lifted a third Stanley Cup to cement his place among the all-time greats.
Crosby, who was widely considered the heir to Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky, silenced any remaining critics by helping his Pittsburgh Penguins become the first team in almost 20 years to repeat as NHL champions and picked up a second consecutive Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP as well.
"He's now one of the best to ever play the game," Penguins owner Mario Lemieux, a two-time Stanley Cup winner as a player, said of his former team mate.
Crosby was the Penguins' second-highest scorer in the playoffs with 27 points and the 29-year-old saved his best performance for Game Five of the Final with the series tied 2-2 and Nashville riding the momentum of consecutive victories.
With the destiny of the Stanley Cup in the balance, a determined Crosby delivered a dominating performance right from the opening shift, when he rang a shot off the post while being pulled down to the ice by a Predators defenseman.
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