The Chicago Blackhawks came from behind with two goals less than 20 seconds apart late in the third period of Game 6 Monday night to defeat the Boston Bruins, 3-2, clinching the team's second Stanley Cup championship in four years.
Going into the contest, Chicago held a three games to two series lead. The Bruins, on their home ice, had gamely and methodically built a 2-1 lead in the third period on the stick of bruising forward Milan Lucic.
Then, with the clock ticking down towards a Game 7 matchup Wednesday night in Chicago, the Blackhawks struck with a quickness reflected in the lightning that lit up the skies over the greater Boston area just before and during Game 6.
First, Chicago center and captain Jonathan Toews made a nifty pass to linemate Brad Bickell, who tied the score at 2 from in front of the Boston goal with 1:16 left in regulation. The Blackhawks had just lifted goalie Corey Crawford for an extra attacker as the scoring play developed.
Now down a goal, the Bruins tried to get the equalizer by also pulling Rask for the extra skater. But Chicago's defense kept the puck away from the net and the final horn sounded.
"It's the greatest feeling in the world," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville told reporters after the game. "Once you win one, you can't wait to do it again, but it's a hard road. We had some great hurdles, some great ups and downs here, but what a finish. I'm so happy for the guys."
For Chicago fans, the improbable victory set off a raucous celebration Monday night that lasted into Tuesday morning when Blackhawk players brought the Stanley Cup to several establishments in the Windy City.
As for Bruins fans, it will be a summer of "what-ifs"as their team came up just short in their quest for a second Stanley Cup in three years. Granted, Chicago had a number of skaters playing hurt. But what if Boston centers Gregory Campbell and Patrice Bergeron were available at close to full strength? What if the Bruins had quicker defensemen as the Blackhawks buzzed around the Boston net? What if late-season acquisition Jaromir Jagr had been able to buy a goal in this last playoff series?
"It's a tough way to lose a game, tough way to lose a series," Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said afterwards.
All these Bruins questions and more will be digested over the summer as the Blackhawks and their fans celebrate winning the franchise's fifth Stanley Cup, emblematic of NHL supremacy.