Thursday, June 10, 2010

A bizzarre looking Game Winner gives the Blackhawks the Stanley Cup

A bizarre looking goal early in OT by Patrick Kane just 4 minutes into the extra frame ended one of the longest Stanley Cup Droughts in league history as the Blackhawks are celebrating for the first time since 1961.

It was another close back-and-fourth game through 2 periods as the teams went scoreless for most of the first period before Dustin Byfuglien scored his 11th of the playoffs. Just as the Blackhawks were looking to have a 1-0 lead, the Flyers responded with Scott Hartnell who was off balance who got a shot from Daniel Briere to tie the game at 1-1.

A 3-2 Chicago lead was able to hold up and was almost enough for the Blackhawks to end up celebrating with the Cup until Scott Hartnell had his 8th of the playoffs and 2nd of the night to tie the game at 3-3. After that goal, Philly had stolen momentum and were looking to win early in OT.

But there hopes were dashed when Patrick Kane received a shot from Brian Campbell who scored one of the weirdest Championship Clincher goals ever as he was near the goal line, it barely went in, but it got stuck and was hard to see, if you look at the replay you will see that it went in and it got stuck in the net that in a position.

The Goal Judges had a hard time seeing and they was no lights or the horn didn't sound so people were confused for a moment until the refs agreed that it was a good goal and gave the Blackhawks their first Stanley Cup Championship since the early 60s.

This was one of the most amazing Stanley Cup Finals I have seen in a very long time with every game being very close. Lots of up-and-down action and one of the highest scoring Stanley Cup Finals since the early 80s, in all, we had 4 of the 6 games be one goal games with 2 heading to OT.

And even in Game 4 it would have been a one goal game before the Blackhawks made it 5-3 with the empty netter in the final seconds of the game. Also with the exception of Game 2 where the Blackhawks won 2-1, the winner had 4 or more goals in every game of this series so this shows the high scoring games we had.

In addition to winning the Stanley Cup, Chicago also won the scoring battle 23-22 but what hurt the Flyers was giving up the goals at the key times like the 3 goals in game 5 that lead to the 7-4 win and pulling Leighton at the end of the first period in Game 5.

Now that Chicago won their first Cup since 1961, the Maple Leafs now hold the longest Stanley Cup Drought as the Maple Leafs haven't won the Cup since the 1966-67 season. Don't expect this one to end any time soon as the Maple Leafs haven't made the playoffs since the Lockout and finished last in the Eastern Conference this season.

Final Stanley Cup Finals Update:

Game 1, 5/29: Philadelphia Flyers 5 Chicago Blackhawks 6 (3-2, 2-3, 0-1)

Game 2, 5/31: Philadelphia Flyers 1 Chicago Blackhawks 2 (0-0, 0-2, 1-0)

Game 3, 6/2: Chicago Blackhawks 3 Philadelphia Flyers 4 (OT) (0-1, 2-1, 1-1, 0-1)

Game 4, 6/4: Chicago Blackhawks 3 Philadelphia Flyers 5 (1-3, 0-0, 2-2)

Game 5, 6/6: Philadelphia Flyers 4 Chicago Blackhawks 7 (0-3, 2-2, 2-2)

Game 6, 6/9: Chicago Blackhawks 4 Philadelphia Flyers 3 (OT) (1-1, 2-1, 0-1, 1-0)

Final Playoff Stats Leaders

Chicago Blackhawks Scoring Leaders
Jonathan Toews: 22 GP 29 PTS (7G 22A, -1)
Patrick Kane: 22 GP 28 PTS (10G 18A, -2)
Patrick Sharp: 22 GP 22 PTS (11G 11A, +10)

Top Defensemen: Duncan Keith: 22 GP 17 PTS (2G 15A, +2)

Chicago Blackhawks Goaltending
Antti Nemi: 22 GP 16-6 2.63 GAA .910 SV%

Philadelphia Flyers Scoring Leaders
Danny Briere: 23 GP 30 PTS (12G 18A, +9)
Mike Richards: 23 GP 23 PTS (7G 16A, -1)
Claude Giroux: 23 GP 21 PTS (10G 11A, +7)

Top Defensemen: Chris Pronger 23 GP 18 PTS (4G 14A, +5)

Philadelphia Flyers Goaltending
Michael Leighton: 14 GP 8-3 2.46 GAA .916 SV%
Brian Boucher: 12 GP 6-6 2.47 GAA .909 SV%

Stanley Cup Finals Recap from the National Hockey League Website:

Jonathan Toews zig-zagged through the crowd, long after the trophy presentation, his eyes turning every which way. Still on skates and in full gear - minus his gloves, helmets and sticks - Toews was trying his best to see through all the screens like Antti Nemi did on Wednesday Night.

"There it is," he said, pointing diagonally to the right as he looked behind him.

Yes, there it was, the Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup, won with his 4-3 OT Victory on Patrick Kane's overtime goal 4:06 into the extra session of Game 6 on Wednesday Night at the Wachovia Center.

Toews, enamored with gold only 3 and a half months ago, fixated on the glistening Silver as he weaved through a crowd of media and family members who were walking over the previously fresh sheet of the Wachovia Center Ice. Ben Eager, who was having his own private moment with his family and the Cup, handed it to the "Captain serious."

He lifted it over his head, pasted a big smile on his face and told his family to follow him with the Cup - all 35 pounds and 36 inches of it - was being held so high that everybody, including a few thousand Blackhawks fans left in the building, could see it.

Thanks to Kane's surprising goal, Antti Nemi's resiliency and an overall group effort to recover the weight of the hockey world felt like it was crashing down on them, the Blackhawks all got to lift the Stanley Cup over their heads and celebrate with their families.

Not since 1961 has Chicago raised the Cup. The city will have its parade Friday and the team will have a summer to savor the championship.

"The party in Chicago is going to be all world," coach Joel Quenneville said after Kane got the OT Winner and Nemi made 21 saves. "It's been a long time."

Game 7 looked like a distinct possibility when Flyers Wing Scott Hartnell forced overtime with 3:59 left in regulation, but Kane scored a goal only he knew actually went into the net early in the extra period.

He deked and dangled around Kimmo Timonen, taking the puck around the lower portion of the left circle before throwing it on net. Kane immediately threw his arms up to celebrate as he rimmed his body around the corner boards, but there was no red light.

The Flyers were stunned. They had no idea what was happening.

"I didn't see the goal," coach Peter Laviolette said. It came in off the angle." I saw one of their players skate across the ice like he had won something. I got a little pit in my stomach. But I didn't know it when in. I haven't seen it."

The players that streak across Laviolette's field of vision could have been any number of the Blackhawks.

Patrick Sharp, Nick Boynton, Andrew Ladd and Brian Campbell trailed as #88 raced down to jump on Nemi. As Kane wizzed past through the Hawks bench, one by one they all started pouring over the boards.

Still it wasn't totally defined. Was it a goal?

Toews started back at the officials as he was hugging teammates. Sharp did the same. So did Brent Sopel and John Madden.

Video replays showed the puck went into the right side of the net, going through the Flyers goalie Michael Leighton (37 saves) and tickling the twine enough for it to flutter as if a gust of wind had just blown through Wachovia Center.

After a short review, it was ruled a goal - and the celebration was on.

"One guy went over the bench and all of a sudden it was just a waterfall," Troy Brouwer said. "I don't think any of us actually know it went in. We just followed the flow. Kane started celebrating so we figured it must have gone in."

Toews who finished the playoffs with 29 points in 22 games, was first handed the Conn Smythe Trophy from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. Next came the Cup, making the Blackhawks captain an Olympic Champion, Stanley Cup Champion and Conn Smythe winner all within less then four months.

He also the youngest player (22 years old) to become a member of the Triple Gold Club (Olympic Gold, Stanley Cup Champion, World Championship).

"This tops everything for sure," said Toews, who assisted on Dustin Byfuglien's power play goal 16:49 into the first period that gave the Hawks a 1-0 lead. "We're brothers in that locker room and we pull for each other, and thats what makes us so special."

Toews handed to the Cup Marian Hossa, this year's fell good story of the Cup.

"Very appros", Quenneville said.

Hossa's military press with the Cup was three years in the making - he lost in the Final in each of the last 2 seasons. Hossa said he thought about his family and how hard his road to this moment has been when he had the trophy over his head.

It was a feeling made only more unbelieveable by a see-saw game of goals and emotions.

Chicago grabbed a 1-0 lead, but a dominating first period (17-7 shot advantage in SOG) was ruined by a late penalty and ensuing power play from Scott Hartnell 27 seconds before the first intermission.

Eight minutes into the 2nd period, Danny Briere made it 2-1 Flyers.

But Sharp and Andrew Ladd scored before the intermission to make 3-2 Hawks. Chicago was now 20 minutes away from winning the Stanley Cup, and 16 minutes it looked Ladd's goal (17:43 into the 2nd) was going to stand as the winner.

But all it takes is one bounce for everything to change.

With 3:59 left in regulation, Hartnell directed the puck into the net after Ville Leino's pass banked off Hossa in the slot. Tied 3-3, the record setting crowd of 20,307, the most fans ever to see a hockey game in person in the state of Pennsylvania, roared as the Blackhawks sagged.

Keith said the Hawks talked about who would become the hero.

"Sure enough, it was little Kaner," said Keith. "Hes scored big goals for us all year."

He may not score a bigger one in his life.

"I knew it was in right away," Kane said. "I just tried to take off and book it to the other end and try to sell the celebration. It was crazy. It's unbelieveable to be a part of this."

Chicago Blackhawks win Stanley Cup 4-2

Game Boxscore

Chicago Blackhawks 4 Philadelphia Flyers 3 (OT) (1-1, 2-1, 0-1, 1-0)

1-0 CHI: Dustin Byfuglien (PP) (Toews, Kane) 16:49 1st

1-1 PHI: Scott Hartnell (Briere, Pronger) 19:33 1st

1-2 PHI: Danny Briere (Leino, Krajicek) 8:00 2nd

2-2 CHI: Patrick Sharp (Bolland, Keith) 9:58 2nd

2-3 CHI: Andrew Ladd (Hjalmarsson, Kane) 17:43 2nd

3-3 PHI: Scott Hartnell (Leino, Briere) 16:01 3rd

4-3 CHI: Patrick Kane (Campbell) 4:06 OT

Game Stats

SOG: CHI 41 PHI 24

PIM: CHI 8 Minutes on 4 Penalties PHI 10 Minutes on 5 Penalties

Goalies: CHI Antti Nemi 21 SVS on 24 Shots PHI Michael Leighton 37 SVS on 41 Shots

ATT: 20,327

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