The Chicago Blackhawks had the hottest start to a season in National Hockey League history, recording a point in a record 24 straight games. They ended it with a second Stanley Cup title in four years.
The Boston Bruins were about a minute away from forcing a decisive Game 7 in the championship series before the Blackhawks scored two goals in the final 76 seconds last night to pull out a 3-2 victory and stun the home crowd in Boston.
The Blackhawks’ fifth Stanley Cup title caps a lockout-shortened season in which they started 21-0-3, won the Presidents’ Trophy with an NHL-best 36-7-5 record and had to erase a 3-1 series deficit against the Detroit Red Wings in the second round of the playoffs.
“This is special because they had such a special season,” Scotty Bowman, the Blackhawks senior adviser of hockey operations, said in a televised interview after capturing his 13th Stanley Cup title as an executive or coach. “I’ve never seen a team score a couple goals in the last couple of moments to win. It’s not easy to win the Presidents’ Trophy and then go on to win the Stanley Cup with that pressure.”
The Blackhawks trailed 2-1 last night after Milan Lucic of the Bruins scored his seventh goal of the playoffs with about eight minutes left in the third period.
With the Bruins on the verge of tying the best-of-seven series at three games apiece, the Blackhawks struck for the tying goal with 1:16 left after pulling goaltender Corey Crawford for an extra skater. Bryan Bickell evened it with his ninth goal of the postseason off a pass across the mouth of the net from Duncan Keith, quieting the hometown crowd.
Chicago scored again 17 seconds later as Dave Bolland stuffed home a rebound of a slapshot off the goalpost, easily beating Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask.
“Seeing that puck bounce around, I just had to tap it in,” Bolland said.
Patrick Kane of the Blackhawks won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player of the postseason after collecting nine goals and 10 assists in the playoffs.
“It was the best year of my life just playing with these guys,” Kane said in a televised interview. “Starting off the season like we did with so many wins and the pressure of winning the Presidents’ Trophy, and hanging on to that pressure all the way to the end -- you’re down 2-1 in the last minute and you come through with the 3-2 win, it’s unbelievable.”
Chris Kelly opened the scoring for the Bruins midway through the first period. The Blackhawks’ Jonathan Toews, who sat out the third period of Game 5 with an upper-body injury, tied the game 1-1 with 4:24 gone in the second period as Chicago was finishing off a penalty kill.
Toews was later the first player to lift the trophy for the Blackhawks, who also won the title in 2010. The Bruins were denied their second Stanley Cup in three years, having won in 2011.
Boston was the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference and swept the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins in the conference finals to reach the championship round. That series win came after the Bruins fought past the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-4 in overtime of Game 7 of their first-round playoff series. They erased a three-goal third-period deficit in that decider and scored twice in the final 1:22 to force overtime.
“It wasn’t meant to be tonight,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “But they shouldn’t hang their heads, there were so many good things that happened to our team this year.”
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