Taking seconds from Lord Stanley’s Cup was even better than the first course for Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin.

Now Dumoulin, a 25-year-old Biddeford native, is already beginning to think about winning a third straight NHL championship.

“You get a taste of it once and you realize that feeling is worth it, worth the four rounds of playoffs, and worth the whole season,” Dumoulin said Tuesday. “And next season, we know we’re capable of it and that’s the biggest thing. We know we can win.”

In two full NHL seasons, Dumoulin has been a key contributor to consecutive Cup-winning teams. He is the only Maine native to play on a Stanley Cup champion. He earned his second June 11 in Nashville when Pittsburgh beat the Predators 2-0 in Game 6 of the finals.

No NHL team has won three straight since the Islanders won four in a row from 1980-83, but championships and Dumoulin seem to go together.

He led Biddeford High to state titles in 2007 and 2008 and Boston College to NCAA championships in 2010 and 2012.

The Penguins’ desire to three-peat starts with team captain Sidney Crosby.

“He’s the most important guy, our captain and such a good leader,” Dumoulin said. “He’s won three (NHL championships), won everything you can win and he just wants to win so bad … you just want to do it for this guy.”

Dumoulin has become a backbone of Pittsburgh’s defense. Despite suffering a broken jaw when he took a slap shot to the face in December, he played in 70 regular-season games with one goal and 14 assists. Dumoulin played in all 25 playoff games with a goal and five assists, including an assist on Carl Hagelin’s empty-net goal that cinched the Cup.

With top defenseman Kris Letang out for the entire postseason, Dumoulin and an unheralded defensive group stood up to near-constant questions, not to mention opposing forwards. Dumoulin led the Penguins in playoff shifts (777) and ice time (21 minutes, 59 seconds per game).

“We kept winning each series and then they kept saying in the next series the weakness of our team was our defense,” Dumoulin said. “Look at us now.

“Obviously we would have loved to have Kris Letang on that blue line and we knew that people would target us. We didn’t listen and we just went out and played the best we could.”

Dumoulin is due for a new contract after signing a two-year deal in July 2015 with an annual average salary of $800,000.

As a restricted free agent, Dumoulin can sign an offer sheet with any NHL team. If that happens, the Penguins have seven days to either match the offer or let him go to the new team.

“Obviously I want to re-sign with Pittsburgh. That’s my first, foremost priority,” said Dumoulin. “I have no idea when. It could be any time. Obviously team success always helps the player for sure.”

This offseason had an added wrinkle of an expansion draft to stock the Vegas Golden Knights, who will begin play this fall.

There was some speculation that Dumoulin could be exposed in the expansion draft. On Sunday he was one of four defensemen protected by the Penguins along with Letang, Olli Maatta and Justin Schultz.

Pittsburgh had the option of protecting eight skaters plus a goalie, or seven forwards, three defensemen and a goalie. Pittsburgh chose to protect two fewer players so it could be sure to keep Dumoulin, Maatta and Schultz, all of whom are under 26 years old.

Forwards Crosby, Evegni Malkin, Phil Kessel and Patric Hornqvist and goalie Matt Murray were also protected.

“That’s how we prioritized our players,” Penguins General Manager Jim Rutherford told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

This summer, Dumoulin plans to take his final class at Boston College to earn his degree in marketing and business but he’ll let his agent, Lewis Gross, handle the contract details.

“That’s what my agent’s for. I don’t have to use my degree yet,” Dumoulin said.

As a member of the winning organization, Dumoulin will get a yet-to-be-determined day with the Stanley Cup this summer.

Last year Dumoulin and the Cup drew an estimated crowd of 5,000 fans and friends to the Biddeford Ice Arena.

“The next couple of weeks we’ll probably figure some things out,” Dumoulin said of a possible Cup return to Maine. “We have to find out a date and we’ll go from there. Having done it last year gives us good insight into how the process is this year.”

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

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