Chicago Blackhawks defeat Lightning to win Stanley Cup
Duncan Keith nets winning goal
The margin of error was minuscule, the difference between the teams even less.
After playing on a tightrope for two weeks, the dam finally broke and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-0 in Game 6 on Monday night to win one of the tightest Stanley Cup final series in NHL history and capture their third title in the past six years.
"It doesn't feel real right now. It's unbelievable," captain Jonathan Toews said. "Feels like a dream. Every time we do it, it gets better and better. It's an amazing feeling."
The Blackhawks lifted the Cup at United Center for the first time. They had to wait, however, as the trophy was delayed by weather and needed a police escort to the arena. It was the first time in franchise history they won on home ice since 1938.
"They're all grinds, this one maybe was a little bit more grindier," said Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville to the CBC on ice while his team celebrated around him. "I'm the lucky guy that gets to work with this great character group here that's been around here three different times."
Conn Smythe trophy winner Duncan Keith scored the clincher on one of the best individual efforts of the playoffs, and Patrick Kane provided the exclamation point with a third-period goal.
They got help from goaltender Corey Crawford, who made 25 saves to pick up his first shutout of the final.
Lightning's Bishop, Johnson not at full strength
In total he stopped 151 of the 161 shots he faced to outduel an injured Ben Bishop, who was struggling with a groin tear.
Tampa Bay centre Tyler Johnson was also dealing with an ailment for much of the series.
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TBLightning?src=hash">#TBLightning</a> Tyler Johnson said he played with a broken right wrist. Suffered early in this series.—@TBTimes_JSmith
"That's three Cups, six seasons. I'd say you have a dynasty," said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman before presenting the Cup to Toews.
The Lightning's starter again fought through injury but couldn't be perfect enough. With a banged-up team in front of him, Bishop made 30 saves as Tampa Bay couldn't force a Game 7 back home Wednesday night.
"Think it easily could have been us on the ice celebrating," said Bishop. "It was such a close series."
A Game 7 is the only thing that could have made this series more historic. Each of the first five games was decided by one goal for the first time since 1951.
In the end the difference was not the stars. Toews had just one goal, while Kane didn't get on the board until the final minutes of Game 6.
Lightning captain Steven Stamkos was shut out.
As the series turned into a battle of wills, the Lightning put forth their final burst of desperation facing elimination. But with several players dealing with noticeable injuries, they didn't have enough to push back against the playoff-tested and healthier Blackhawks.
Veteran defenceman Kimmo Timonen went out on top, winning the Cup in his final season.
With 22,424 screaming fans on their feet, the Blackhawks showed why they're the team of the decade. Just like in 2010 and 2013, with the Cup on the line, they closed the deal like champions.
"Chicago's gonna be a hell of a city to win it in," said Blackhawks defenceman Johnny Oduya. "Can't wait for the parade."