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Stanley Cup Final: Ranking Non-Chicago Blackhawks Series In Salary Cap Era

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Jan 31, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35) makes a save against Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Patric Hornqvist (72) during the second period at the PPG PAINTS Arena. The Penguins won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 31, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35) makes a save against Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Patric Hornqvist (72) during the second period at the PPG PAINTS Arena. The Penguins won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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No. 2: Detroit Red Wings vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (2008)

The first of two consecutive dramatic, exciting and entertaining championship series between these teams saw the Wings take one of their last gasps as a serious contender in the salary cap era. The Penguins, like the Blackhawks to follow, were the up-and-comer with guys like Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to pair with Marian Hossa and Marc-Andre Fleury.

It looked like this series would be a dud at the outset, the President’s Trophy-winning Wings overpowering a not-yet-ready Pittsburgh team. Detroit won the opening two games by a combined 7-0 ledger as Chris Osgood stoned the Pens in net.

But then things started to get fun. Crosby showed off his wares on the national stage in Game 3 with a pair of goals as the Pens held off the Wings 3-2. Detroit responded with a tight 2-1 road win to put Pittsburgh a victory away from elimination.

Game 5 was just a slugfest, with Detroit netting a pair of third-period goals to take a 3-2 lead, only to see Maxime Talbot score with the Wings 35 seconds from the Stanley Cup. Halfway through the third overtime, Sergei Gonchar kept the Pens alive and made a winner of Fleury, who stopped 55 of 58 shots thrown his way.

And Game 6 saw the Pens go down 2-0 and 3-1 but pull within a goal both times. It just wasn’t enough against the old guard that was the Wings. This series ranks highly on my list because it was an awesome representation of the past and future, and it also set the stage for the No. 1 series on this list.

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