The Chicago Blackhawks are headed to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in 18 years after beating the San Jose Sharks 4-2 to complete a sweep for the National Hockey League’s Western Conference title.
The Blackhawks won the best-of-seven playoff series 4-0 a year after losing in the Western Conference finals and will play Philadelphia or Montreal for the NHL title.
“At this point it doesn’t come as any surprise to myself or anybody else in our locker room,” said Chicago’s Jonathan Toews, who assisted on Byfuglien’s winning goal. “We know what we can do as a team. Last year, we felt we were very close but just didn’t have enough in us.”
The Flyers lead the Canadiens 3-1 in the Eastern Conference, with Game 5 scheduled for today in Philadelphia.
“Everyone is pretty excited,” said Patrick Sharp, who was traded to Chicago from Philadelphia during the 2005-06 season. “But at the same time we’re focused on the next series already. We know we’ve got some more work to do.”
The Blackhawks, who lost the 1992 NHL finals to Pittsburgh, will be seeking their first Stanley Cup since 1961.