The 2013 NHL playoffs ended in thrilling fashion. The Chicago Blackhawks trailed the Boston Bruins 2-1 with a minute and half left in the third period and all signs pointed towards a Game 7 at the United Center on Wednesday night. Then one of the most incredible sequences in NHL postseason history happened.
A desperate Blackhawks team pulled goalie Corey Crawford with the final minute and change of Game 6 winding down. Captain Jonathan Toews and his linesmen wasted no time, quickly penetrating Boston’s defensive zone. Former Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith corralled a loose puck after Patrick Kane fired a wrist shot at Tukka Rask. Keith dumped the puck to Toews in the left corner of Boston’s zone and the 2013 Selke Award winner sent a centering pass to Bryan Bickell, who one-timed the puck past Rask, tying the score at 2-2 with 1:16 left in regulation!
Bickell’s goal sucked the life out of the Boston Bruins and TD Garden. Boston seemed content playing for overtime at this point while Chicago was still feeling an adrenaline rush from the brute forward’s game tying goal. After the faceoff, Dave Bolland gained possession of the puck in the neutral zone, starting another offensive rush in Boston’s end. He dished the puck off to Michal Frolik, who’s shot was turned away to Rask’s blocker side. Frolik skated across Boston’s zone to regain possession of the puck along the boards. A scrum formed and the puck eventually found the stick of Johnny Oduya. He blasted a slap shot by Rask off a Frolik deflection, but the shot struck the post! Thankfully, Bolland was in the right place at the right time. Bolland put back the rebound and dropped his gloves and stick in celebration, knowing that his team was 58.3 seconds away from pulling off one of the most shocking comebacks in Stanley Cup Finals history. Chicago managed to hold onto their 3-2 lead, erasing a two goal deficit in 17 seconds.
The Blackhawks found themselves in an early 1-0 hole when Chris Kelly scored with 12:41 left in the first period. The Bruins dominated the first period of play by doubling Chicago’s shot total – 12 to 6 – and controlling the pace of play.
“We were very fortunate to come out of the first period down 1-0,” head coach Joe Quenneville said. “It was almost like what happened in our building in Game 2. But Jonny scored a big goal to get us back into it.”
Captain Serious put Chicago on the board within the opening five minutes of the second period. Toews gained controlled the puck off of a faceoff after Zdeno Chara misplayed a pass along the boards. The 2010 Conn Smythe Award winner flew down the right side of the rink setting up a 1 on 1 opportunity between him and Rask. Toews didn’t have a great angle on the shot, but he still manage to blister a snap shot past Rask to even up the score at 1-1. Chicago’s equalizing goal revitalized his team after they were outplayed in physical first period. The Blackhawks went on to win the second period, out shooting the Bruins 9-6 in the process of tying up the score going into the second intermission.
Quenneville’s squad maintained their second period momentum heading into the final 20 minutes of action. Chicago’s fast paced offense was firing on all cylinders, putting 16 shots on goal in the third period. Boston still managed to create a handful of opportune scoring chances, but Crawford was up the to challenge until he made a game altering mistake. Crawford mishandled a pass behind his net and it led to Boston’s Milian Lucic tallying his seventh goal of the postseason with 7:49 left in regulation. Chicago found themselves starring at a 2-1 deficit despite controlling the actions for most of the second and third periods. But the resilient Blackhawks kept generating chances in search of a breakthrough. Bickell ultimately capitalized on a slew of near scoring chances in the final minute and a half of regulation, and we all know what happens from there.
This is Chicago’s second Stanley Cup in four years. Patrick Kane won the Conne Smythe Trophy after scoring multiple game winning goals in the playoffs. This Blackhawks squad was clearly the best team during the 2013 regular and post season. They won the Presidents Trophy after making NHL history with their 24 game point streak to open a lockout shortened season. They accepted and overcame every challenge they faced along the path hockey greatness. The Blackhawks came back to beat the archrival Detroit Redwings after trailing the series 3-1. Chicago took down Jonathan Quick and the defending Stanley Cup champions in 5 games and finished off the red hot Boston Bruins in 6 games. Chicago persevered amid all the injuries, adversity, and obstacles they faced during the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Blackhawks deserved to win the Stanley Cup from day one.