BOSTON — Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland scored goals 17 seconds apart Monday as the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in dramatic fashion with an amazing 3-2 last-minute comeback victory over the Boston Bruins in Game 6.
Milan Lucic’s third-period goal had seemed to give the Bruins a 2-1 victory and a new lease of life in the final.
But with Chicago goalie Corey Crawford out for an extra attacker, Bickell tied it up at 18:44 after Jonathan Toews circled out of the corner when Boston was unable to clear the puck. With two teammates waiting for him in front of goal, Toews chose Bickell and the game was suddenly tied.
Bolland then won the Cup seconds after the puck drop, tucking in a rebound of a Johnny Oduya point shot that hit the goal-post. Bolland nipped between two defenders to redirect the puck in at 19:01 to stun the Bruins and previously raucous crowd at TD Garden.
Toews, reduced to a spectator the final minutes of Game 5, added a goal and an assist for Chicago as the Blackhawks clawed their way back into the game. The captain was the first to hoist the Cup as his teammates jumped up and down.
Crawford finished with 23 saves in the victory that marked Chicago’s fifth championship and second in four years.
“That team in 2010, we didn’t really know what we were doing,” Toews said. “We played great hockey, and we were kind of oblivious to how good we were playing. This time around we know definitely how much work it takes and how much sacrifice it takes to get back here, and this is an unbelievable group.
“We’ve been through a lot together this year, and this is a sweet way to finish it off.”
Chris Kelly had the other goal for Boston, while Tuukka Rask made 28 saves. The Bruins offence was limited by a power play that went 0-for-4 on the night.
Lucic had taken advantage of a Crawford handling error behind the goal to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead at 12:11. The bruising forward disrupted the Chicago goalie and when the puck came back in front from David Krejci in the corner, Lucic wristed it in.
The Bruins, who won the Stanley Cup in 2011, had their way with the Blackhawks in the first period, but only managed to turn that dominance into a 1-0 lead. Chicago rallied in the second to tie it up and make a contest out of it before completing the memorable comeback.
Tied 1-1 going into the third, the game was up for grabs. And the stakes were high, ratcheting up the pressure for the capacity crowd of 17,565 — Boston’s 165th straight sellout.
It made for a fast-placed third period, with both teams getting chances in what felt like overtime. A lot of hearts were in throats as pucks flew through the crease or just missed sticks.
Both goalies — Rask for Boston and Crawford for Chicago — were in the zone. They never really left it during a series where goals were hard to come by most nights.
Both teams endured a bumpy ride to get to Game 6. There were question marks over the health of Chicago’s Toews and Boston star Patrice Bergeron.
The players also had to contend with searing summer heat in the low 30s that did little for the ice. It was warmer in Beantown than Libya. A thin layer of fog was visible over the ice as the Bruins started their morning skate over some bumpy ice.
Monday matched the deepest the Stanley Cup playoffs have stretched into the summer. New Jersey capped its sweep of Detroit on June 24, 1995, in the last lockout-shortened season.
The last time the Cup was presented on Boston ice was in 1990 when John Muckler’s Edmonton Oilers defeated Mike Milbury’s Bruins four games to one. Craig Simpson, who was in CBC’s commentary booth for the 2013 final, scored the winning goal. Milbury is a studio analyst for NBC.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was once again booed after the game. Chicago sniper Patrick Kane won the Conn Smythe award as playoff MVP.
The final, the first to feature Original Six teams since Montreal defeated the New York Rangers in 1979, did not disappoint.
There were three overtime games and plenty of drama as the speed and skill of Chicago was matched against the hard-hitting Bruins who balanced talent with truculence. But in truth, both teams had a bit of everything including clutch goaltending and a high pain threshold.
Chicago’s Marian Hossa and Boston’s Nathan Horton were just two of those who were playing hurt.
If Chicago is a sleek Porsche, Boston is a muscle car. Both have power, but one was built to give and take some more knocks.
Going into Game 6, Chicago led in shots (204-175) and goals (14-13). Boston had the edge in hits (237-176).
Chicago, with a full-season salary tab of US$79.8 million, ranked fourth in the league in payroll. Boston was eighth at $73.2.
The Blackhawks become the first team in the salary cap era to win the Cup twice.
Chicago also won the Cup in 2010, defeating the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2. Given the Hawks’ recent success, it is easy to forget that the 2010 championship was the first for Chicago since 1961 — at the time the league’s longest active Stanley Cup drought.
The franchise had to shed players in the wake of that Cup run because of salary cap issues. But once again it finds itself celebrating on enemy ice, thanks to GM Stan Bowman’s refreshing of the roster.