CHAMPIONS! BLACKHAWKS WIN FIRST STANLEY CUP SINCE 1961
By Marcus Gilmer in News on Jun 10, 2010 3:10AM
For the first time in 49 years, the Chicago Blackhawks are Stanley Cup Champions, beating the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 in a dramatic Game Six, using aggressive offense, a locked-down defense, and stellar goal-tending to clinch victory in an overtime thriller and hoist the Cup.
The Blackhawks came out firing in the first period, getting off a flurry of shots early and just missing on a few opportunities. But with 3:11 left in the first, the Blackhawks finally got on the board as Dustin Byfuglien shoved a power play goal past Flyers goalie Michael Leighton to put the 'Hawks up 1-0. Jonathan Toews was credited with an assist, giving him 29 points in the playoffs tying a team record. Less than three minutes later, though, the Flyers would take advantage of a power play of their own, sneaking a shot past Antti Niemi to tie the game at 1-1 which was the score at the first intermission even as the Blackhawks out-shot the Flyers 17-7. The second period continued at as fierce a pace as the first but it was the Flyers scoring first at the 12:00 mark as the refs seemed to miss a trip by the Flyers on Keith. A few minutes later, the refs made another awful call on Hossa, calling him for interference as he tried to take the puck to the net. Still, the Blackhawks wouldn't be deterred and, with a four-on-four, Patrick Sharp netted the tying goal with 10:02 left in the second. And the Blackhawks kept the pedal to the floor, firing shots whether short-handed or full-strength, and a Hjalmarsson shot was deflected by Andrew Ladd past Leighton to put the Blackhawks up 3-2 with 2:17 left in the second. By the second intermission, the Flyers looked gassed while the Blackhawks kept the pressure heavy. The third period was heavy on action but light on scoring until Scott Hartnell scored for the Flyers with 3:59 left, tying the game at 3-3 and forcing overtime. But it was Patrick Kane burying the winning goal 4:06 into overtime, a perfect finish to a year that got off to a rough start for the youngster. When it was all said and done, it was the captain, Jonathan Toews, getting the Conn Smythe Trophy.
The aggression certainly paid off for the Blackhawks as they out-shot the Flyers 41 to 24 and didn't allow the Flyers to break double-digits for shots in a period. And, despite allowing three goals, Antti Niemi gave one last solid performance, making 21 saves, several requiring the utmost agility, in the biggest pressure cooker he's faced all year. While Niemi had a few shaky performances in the playoffs - and in the Finals - he was, overall, brilliant in net for the Blackhawks, cool, calm, collected and a big reason why the Blackhawks hoisted the Stanley Cup in Philadelphia tonight.
And now? Well, now we're going to take a deep breath and celebrate. Now we're going to pop open the champagne here at Chicagoist HQ and then wander into the streets to join fellow 'Hawks fans - new and old - and revel in the historic victory. There'll be plenty of time for reflection and appreciation over the coming days and weeks. For now, we're just going to enjoy this and soak it all in.
Congrats, boys, on one hell of a season.