The Chicago Blackhawks will try to clinch their second Stanley Cup since 2010 when they visit the Boston Bruins in Monday's Game 6 battle at TD Garden.
Chicago, which ended a 49-year championship drought when it lifted the Cup three years ago, was down 2-1 to Boston in this best-of-seven series before taking Games 4 and 5 to move within one win of another title.
After winning a wild 6-5 overtime decision in Game 4 last Wednesday in Boston, the Blackhawks notched a 3-1 decision in Saturday's matchup in the Windy City. Patrick Kane scored a pair of goals in Game 5 and Corey Crawford stopped 23- of-24 shots to earn the pivotal win.
Chicago, the top seed in the West, is trying to become the first Presidents' Trophy winner to claim the Stanley Cup since Detroit beat Pittsburgh in 2008. The last time a team other than the Red Wings won the Cup after posting the league's best record in the regular season was when Colorado won it all in 2001.
Kane scored a goal in the first and second period of Game 5 and Dave Bolland wrapped up the win with an empty-netter in the final moments. Crawford, meanwhile, bounced back from a rough outing in Game 4, when he surrendered five goals on 33 shots and had to answer questions about a perceived weak glove hand.
"I think it was a big effort by everyone to come back, play defensively, block shots, sacrifice our bodies to block those pucks and quickly get on to offense," said Crawford. "Another good game, I think, moving the puck, moving our feet, and getting into the zone."
Chicago is 4-5 on the road in this postseason, but has a chance to claim the Cup away from home just like it did when it took Game 6 in Philadelphia on June 9, 2010. The Blackhawks recorded a 4-3 overtime win over the Flyers, with Kane providing the game-winner in the extra session.
Outside of Chicago having a chance to clinch the Cup, the biggest storyline heading into Game 6 involves the status of key players from both teams. Chicago captain Jonathan Toews and Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron -- the last two winners of the Selke Trophy -- both were injured in Game 5 and are game- time decisions for tonight.
Toews, who won the Selke this season, took a hit high to the back by Johnny Boychuk in the second period. He skated several more shifts in the frame before sitting out the final 20 minutes. After the game, Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville said that Toews had an upper-body injury and was hopeful he'd be ready for Game 6.
"Well, it's been a war, it's been a battle," said Quenneville. "It's every game, every shift you're fighting for every kind of shift around the ice. It's a fast paced game. You look at every minute from Game 1 to where we're at today, it's been an amazing series, and relentless hockey, and commend the guys on both teams for leaving it out on the ice."
Zdeno Chara scored the lone goal for the Bruins, who played half of the second period and all of the third without Bergeron. The forward left the game with an undisclosed injury and was taken to a local hospital for observation. He was released from the hospital on Saturday and was able to fly home with the team.
The nature of Bergeron's injury has not been disclosed, but Bruins head coach Claude Julien said he is "day-to-day."
Toews has two goals and 10 assists in these playoffs, while Bergeron has nine goals and six helpers.
Tuukka Rask turned away 29-of-31 shots in Saturday's defeat for Boston, which also won the Stanley Cup in 2011. Boston can look to its recent past for inspiration, though, as the team lost Game 5 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals in Vancouver to fall into a 3-2 hole, only to rally with wins in Game 6 and 7 to take home the championship.
"Well, it's pretty obvious. It's do or die," said Julien. "We've been there before, and we've done well in that situation. So we've got to, again, win the next game."
The Bruins are 8-3 on home ice in the 2013 playoffs. If they pick up a ninth win at TD Garden on Monday, then the teams will meet on Wednesday for a decisive Game 7 in Chicago.
This series marks the first time Original Six franchises have met in the Stanley Cup Finals since 1979, when Montreal defeated the New York Rangers in five games.
Boston has won five of the six postseason meetings with Chicago.