Boston, MA – Goals from Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland just 17 seconds apart in the final two minutes of the third period gave the Chicago Blackhawks the Stanley Cup championship with a thrilling 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins in Game 6 at TD Garden.
Boston was leading 2-1, and after killing off a penalty was just 3:39 away from forcing a Game 7.
Chicago pulled goaltender Corey Crawford from the net inside of 90 seconds and was able to get the puck deep into the Boston end.
Controlling play along the left side, Jonathan Toews was able to feed a short pass from the left of the net to the front where Bickell jammed it in to tie the game with 1:16 to play.
"It's shocking," Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask said. "We were thinking we were going to keep it tight and score an empty-netter."
Moments later, a shot from the left point by Johnny Oduya was tipped off the left post by Michael Frolik. Bolland, though, was there to jam the puck in with just 58.3 seconds showing.
A stunned Boston team was unable to get any more chances on net before time expired and the Blackhawks took home their second championship in the past four years.
"It was kind of like the season we had," said Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville. "It was one of those seasons we were saying, we're almost charmed the way we started the season and the way we ended. Nobody saw that one coming either way."
It was the perfect ending to a perfect season for Chicago, as the team captured the Presidents' Trophy, thanks in part to starting the season with 24 consecutive games without a regulation loss.
"I thought we had one of those seasons this year where it was a special year, and what we accomplished at the start of the year nobody envisioned or nobody could have predicted or foresaw that happening or being the case," said Quenneville. "But I thought we played some very meaningful games through that stretch, particularly later where we learned what it was like playing on big stages because everybody seemed to approach it like a Game 7."
The first team to win the Cup as the top overall seed since Detroit in 2008, the Blackhawks won their fifth title in team history and had ended a 49-year drought with their 2010 Cup title, a six-game victory over the Philadelphia Flyers.
As in the series against the Flyers, the Blackhawks won this one on the road thanks to winning the final three games after falling into a 2-1 hole.
Chicago's Patrick Kane was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP and is the fourth American to capture the honor. Kane led Chicago with 19 points in the playoffs, totaling nine goals and 10 assists along with a plus- seven to take home the honor that Toews had won in 2010.
"I think there's something about our core," said Kane. "Hopefully we can stay together a long time, because that's two Cups in four years, and we seem to only be getting better and better as players as time goes on here."
Toews finished this game with a goal and an assist while Crawford turned away 23 shots for the Blackhawks, who kept the Cup in the Western Conference as the Los Angeles Kings were the champions last season.
Boston, meanwhile, will have a long offseason after blowing the lead late in an attempt to extend the series and try to win the Stanley Cup for the second time in three years.
"Well, probably toughest for sure, when you know you're a little bit over a minute left and you feel that you've got a chance to get to a Game 7, and then those two goals go in quickly," said Boston head coach Claude Julien. "But at the same time, I'm going to stand here and tell you how proud I am of our team, how those guys battled right until the end."
The Bruins had defeated the Vancouver Canucks in 2011 to win the Cup for the first time since 1972, but it wasn't to be this year as the team had dropped the final three games after taking a 2-0 win in Game 3.
Chris Kelly scored in the first period while Milan Lucic gave the Bruins the lead in the third period. Rask stopped 28-of-31 shots in the final game of the playoffs.
With the score tied in the third period, the first good opportunity of the frame went to Boston as Johnny Boychuk drove the puck on net from the right point with traffic in front. Crawford made the stop and Brad Marchand was unable to knock in the rebound just under three minutes in.
After Rask made a nice save on a Patrick Sharp blast from the left wing with just under seven minutes played, the puck went the other way and the Bruins had their own opportunity.
Following a Marian Hossa giveaway in the neutral zone, Daniel Paille was eventually given the puck along the left wing and drove to the net, getting a backhander off that Crawford kept out.
Boston did take a 2-1 lead with 7:49 to play on Lucic's seventh of the playoffs. A wraparound from Duncan Keith was picked off behind the net by David Krejci and he centered it out front where Lucic was able to jam it in.
The Bruins had killed off a Kelly penalty as he was whistled for high sticking with 5:39 to play, which saw Rask glove a Nick Leddy right point shot during the advantage.
Boston, though, was unable to hold on to the lead.
It was all Boston in the first period, and the team took a 1-0 lead just 7:19 in.
Off a right-circle faceoff after Crawford covered up a Kelly rebound chance in front, Boston eventually got control of the puck and Paille had the disc at the left point.
Paille fed the puck down low and it went into the air, but Tyler Seguin was able to grab it and dropped it to the ice before backhanding a pass to the right, where Kelly one-timed it in for his second of the playoffs.
The Bruins continued to pepper Crawford with shots. A blast from the high slot by Boychuk with traffic in front was stopped, but Oduya was called for hooking Seguin on the play and the Boston power play went to work.
Crawford again stood tall, as he blocked a left-point shot from Krejci, then turned away Nathan Horton on the rebound. Later in the advantage, Lucic was in the clear for a shot from the low slot, but Brent Seabrook blocked it away.
Boston got its second power play of the game with 1:35 left in the first period after Michal Rozsival was called for high sticking on Marchand.
Boston had the advantage carry over from the first period to start the second, and was awarded its third advantage of the game at 2:24 after Andrew Shaw was called for roughing, but the team wasn't able to add to its advantage and Chicago tied the game as soon as it expired.
A neutral zone faceoff just outside of the Chicago end was won by Boston, but Zdeno Chara couldn't control the puck and Toews stole it off him.
Skating into the Boston end down the right wing on a 2-on-1, Toews fired the rolling puck between the five-hole of Rask for his third of the playoffs at 4:24.
Chicago kept taking penalties as Seabrook was whistled for tripping Krejci behind the Chicago net at 5:12, but Crawford kept the game tied by stopping a Marchand stuff attempt from the right side.
The Blackhawks got their first power play of the game when Seguin was called for hooking Bickell during a sequence in the Boston end at 13:57.
Chicago, which was 1-for-17 on the power play coming into the game, had one good chance during the advantage on a Sharp slap shot from the left point. Rask made the save and the puck briefly stayed in front, but it was cleared away and Boston kept the puck away from the net during the rest of the advantage.
This was the first time two Original Six teams met in the Cup Finals since the Canadiens defeated the Rangers in five games in 1979 ... Chicago finished the series just 1-for-19 on the power play after going 0-for-2 in the game. Boston went 4-for-18 on the man advantage in the series, and 0-for-4 in the game ... Krejci led all skaters in the playoffs with 26 points (9g, 17a) ... Despite the loss, Boston has still won five of the seven postseason meetings with Chicago ... The Blackhawks went 5-5 on the road in the playoffs, while the Bruins were 8-4 at home ... It is the third straight year an American has won the Conn Smythe, as Los Angeles goaltender Jonathan Quick took home the award last year and goaltender Tim Thomas won it for Boston in 2011.