Today we will be focusing on the goaltender who made one of the biggest, if not the biggest save in Pittsburgh Penguins history.
Frank Pietrangelo was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 4th round, 63rd overall, in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft. Now as much as I would love to be able to just rattle off when Pietranelo was drafted, I sadly don't have that deep of a Penguins hockey history database inside my head. I bring this up because for some unknown reason I saw 3 different draft numbers on the world wide web for Pietrangelo when I looked it up. 63rd overall, 64th, and 67th, overall were the positions listed. NHL.com and the Pens official site matched up with one of the sites and has him listed as being 63rd overall, so we decided to go with that. Either way, Frank Pietrangelo was the Penguins 4th round draft pick (most likely 63rd overall) in 1983, so if you ever end up getting that question in a trivia contest, you owe us some of your winnings.
Frank Pietrangelo played 87 games in a Penguins uniform and posted a record of 34-32-3. 2 quick things before we go on. First, for you guys doing the math right now, you'll notice his win/loss/tie record only add up to 69 games (Hehe). That is because as a goalie you are not necessarily the goalie on record just because you play in a game. Second, for all you new age Pens fan, those 3 games are not OT or shootout losses, they are ties (#FreeTheShootOut).
During those 87 games, Pietrangelo posted a save percentage of .870 and a goals against average of 4.32. Pietrangelo also posted one career shutout, which came during the 1987-1988 season. He was traded on March 10, 1992 from Pittsburgh to the Hartfort Whalers for "future considerations" thus ending his career as a Pittsburgh Penguin.
Pretty much everything I have said up to this point is irrelevant when talking about Frank Pietrangelo. He is and will always be remember in Pittsburgh for one moment throughout his Penguins career.
It was Game 6 of first round of the 1991 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Penguins were trailing the Devils 3-2 in the series and were without Hall of Fame defenseman Paul Coffey and starting goaltender Tom Barrasso. Pietrangelo was forced to start Game 6 because of Barrasso's injury and his career would never be the same. The Penguins were up 2-1 in the first period of game 6. The Devils were on the power play and were working the puck around. A shot from the point, a rebound, Stastny gets the puck with a net that is more wide open than some drunk girl's legs on the South Side.... Robbery
Stunned Guy on the far left. He was never the same after that moment.
Momentum and belief can be a big thing in any sport, hockey included. "The Save" as it is known in Pittsburgh gave the Penguins the momentum and belief that it was meant to be. Pietrangelo was a backup goalie who was thrust into the starting job during the biggest game of the Penguins season to that point, and man, did he ever step up. If Stastny buries that goal who knows where we are now. We could be looking at the 2009 Stanley Cup being only the 2nd in franchise history, hell maybe even the first.
"The Save" forever etched Frank Pietrangelo's name into the Penguins history books and pushed the Penguins past the Devils. You all should know the rest of the story. The Penguins go on to beat the Washington Crapitals, Boston Bruins, and the Minnesota North Stars en route to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. See you tomorrow for number 39.