PHILADELPHIA -- Bring the Stanley Cup back to Chicago!
A resilient performance by the Blackhawks capped a memorable season as they took Game 6 over the Philadelphia Flyers, 4 to 3 in overtime, to earn the franchise its fourth title.
Patrick Kane may have been the only one to realize the puck went in when he scored the winner with 4:10 gone by in the extra period. Kane made a rush around Kimmo Timonen and wristed one past Michael Leighton so fast no one knew it was in the net.
Kane did, and reacted accordingly, skating all the way down ice and jumping into Antti Niemi’s arms. A stunned crowd didn’t know how to react but the Hawks' celebration was on.
The Hawks came hard at the Flyers in the first and despite eventually getting down 2-1 in the second, they fought back, getting what looked to be the winning tally with just 2:17 to go in the middle period. The 3-2 lead held up until Scott Hartnell tied it with 3:50 left in the third.
The Hawks outshot the Flyers 17-7 in the first and after two it was 27-13. They finished with 41 shots to 24 for the Flyers. It was a trademark of the Hawks' march to the playoffs. They routinely outshot their opponent by a wide margin, leading the league in that category. It helped win them a title.
The teams exchanged power-play goals in the first period as the Flyers were outplayed and outshot but came away with a 1-1 tie. The home team actually played a better second period but came out on the losing end thanks to a four-on-four goal by Patrick Sharp and then the late score by Ladd.
Though challenged at times during the regular season and playoffs, the Hawks summoned their best every time they needed it. They proved they can play different styles at different speeds with an unproven goaltender in net -- though he’s unproven no longer. Antti Niemi wasn’t just a caretaker in the Hawks' crease, he was a difference-maker. And so were many on the deepest team in the league.
They won three six-game series and swept the top team in the Western Conference. In doing all that plus earning 112 regular-season points, they earned the right to be called Stanley Cup champions.