Thu Jun 10 12:02am EDT
The tumultuous ride of the Stanley Cup Finals may not have taken the route we expected, but in the end, it arrived where most predicted.
A Chicago Blackhawks captain held the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1961 Wednesday night when 22-year old Wolverine look-alike Jonathan Toews(notes) lifted the NHL championship trophy over his head, and passed it to much-deserving Stanley Cup "jinx" Marian Hossa(notes).
The Hawks snapped a 10-game losing streak in Philadelphia's Wachovia Center when it mattered most, charging out of the gate early in the game, dominating in shots, blocked shots and face-offs.
When it came down to overtime, the young guns prevailed. Patrick Kane(notes) head-faked the life out of Kimmo Timmonen, beat him wide and fired the puck through Philadelphia goaltender Michael Leighton(notes). While he may have been the only man on the ice at the time who knew it went in ... HE KNEW.
And though the Conn Smythe was a heavily debated trophy, in the end, it was captain Jonathan Toews' to take home. The stats put him ahead and his two-way play kept it, en route to the biggest championship title of his young career.
With four minutes remaining in the third, Scott Hartnell(notes) scored his second goal of the game, tying it 3-3, and cashing in on the frantic energy the Flyers had generated to push the game into overtime. For all the Blackhawks' effort, it seemed the Flyers still had plenty of fight left in them.
This came after two goals late in the second period gave the Hawks a 3-2 lead, to put the Cup within their grasp.
The first of those two big goals came after a questionable goalie interference call on Marian Hossa. The penalty set up a four-on-four situation - a call that had Chicago coach Joel Quenneville looking like he was about to come unglued - where Patrick Sharp(notes) converted after two neat passes from Duncan Keith(notes) and Dave Bolland(notes) to tie the game 2-2.
As that period wound to a close, Chicago turned an unthinkable defensive error from Mike Richards(notes), who (for some reason) was playing the weak side wing in the defensive zone. Seeing Patrick Kane feign an attack to the middle of the ice, he left the d-man he was assigned to cover - Kane immediately read this and dished it to the now-open Hjalmarsson, whose point shot was tipped in by Andrew Ladd(notes) at 17:43 of the first period.
Power-play goals were the story of the first period, with Dustin Byfuglien(notes) opening the scoring for the Blackhawks. After Jonathan Toews tried a side-door stuff-in on Leighton, the puck bounced out to Byfuglien in the slot who hammered the rebound back on net, scoring his sixth goal of playoffs.
Minutes later, Brent Sopel's(notes) second penalty of the first erased the Hawks' 1-0 lead. After struggling on their first two power plays, the Flyers worked the puck around the perimeter, and bought Scott Hartnell time to get position on top of the Blackhawks' crease. With his position established on Keith and Seabrook, Hartnell whacked at a Danny Briere(notes) rebound and found a puck-sized hole to tie the game at one before the end of the first period.
The Flyers temporarily jumped ahead after Hartnell clipped Duncan Keith's skate on an offensive rush, creating a two-on-none that saw Daniel Briere bury a Ville Leino(notes) dish to make the score 2-1.
The frantic desperation we usually only associate with the finals moments of games never stopped for the entirety of Game Six.
And while Flyers fans did their best to keep her out of the building Wednesday, the fat lady showed up. And despite their best efforts, she sang, sang, sang. Boy did she sing.
Congrats to this year's Stanley Cup champions, the Chicago Blackhawks.