It’s been over 50 years since a major-league team from Pittsburgh clinched a title at home.
But that’s exactly what the Penguins will do tonight if they can beat the San Jose Sharks in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final.
The 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates were the last ones to do it, when Bill Mazeroski’s walk-off homer at Forbes Field bested the Yankees in Game 7 of that memorable World Series. The Pirates won a couple of more championships in 1971 and 1979, but both those were clinched in Baltimore.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have won six Super Bowls, but all those were played at neutral sites.
And, of course, the Penguins have won three Cups. Their first, in 1991, was hoisted in Minnesota; their second, in 1992, was clinched in Chicago; and their third, in 2009, was won in Detroit.
Not surprisingly, tickets for tonight’s game are going for big money on the secondary market. This afternoon on Stubhub, the cheapest seat was being sold for around $1,300, while a couple of club seats right behind the Penguins’ bench were going for almost $10,000 each.
“I think our players have this game in perspective,” Pens coach Mike Sullivan said this morning. “I think we’re at our best when we play with emotion and play with energy, but it certainly has to be controlled emotion and it has to be channeled the right way. I trust our leadership in the room that we’ll handle it the right way.”
The Sharks, meanwhile, would love to spoil Pittsburgh’s party and send the series back to the Bay Area.
“I think our group’s whole motivation is to make all you guys get back on a plane and go back to San Jose again,” coach Pete DeBoer told reporters. “That’s everybody’s goal. I know it’s mine.”