BOSTON — An NHL-record unbeaten streak to start the lockout-shortened season.
Three straight victories to clinch the title.
From beginning to end, the Chicago Blackhawks skated away from the rest of the league.
Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland scored 17 seconds apart in the final minutes and the Blackhawks rallied to win Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals 3-2 on Monday night to clinch their second NHL championship in four seasons.
Jonathan Toews returned from injury to add a goal, and Corey Crawford made 23 saves for Chicago.
But Crawford was off for an extra skater for the most important goal of the season, when Toews fed it in front and Bickell scored from the edge of the crease to tie it 2-2.
Perhaps the Bruins expected it to go to overtime, as three of the first four games in the series did, because they seemed to be caught off-guard on the ensuing faceoff.
A shot deflected by Michael Frolik went off the post right to Bolland, who put it in the net and started the Chicago celebration with 58.3 seconds left in the game.
“It's huge,” Bolland said. “Just seeing that puck bounce around there, I knew I just had to tap it in. So it was a huge goal.”
The Blackhawks on the ice gathered in the corner, while the Blackhawks bench began jumping up and down. It was only a minute later, when Boston's Tuukka Rask was off for an extra man, that the Hawks withstood Boston's final push and surged over the boards, throwing their sticks and gloves across the ice.
“I still can't believe that finish,” Crawford said. “Oh, my God, we never quit.”
The Bruins got 28 saves from Rask, who served as Tim Thomas' backup when Boston won it all two years ago. The sold-out TD Garden began chanting “We want the Cup!” after Milan Lucic's goal put the Bruins up 2-1 with eight minutes left, but it fell silent after their team coughed up the lead.
The arena was almost empty — except for a few hundred fans in red Blackhawks sweaters who filtered down to the front rows — when the Chicago players passed the 35-pound Cup around the ice.
Patrick Kane, whose overtime goal in Game 6 beat Philadelphia to win the 2010 championship, was voted the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as playoffs MVP.”It was the best year of my life, just playing with these guys,” Kane said.
Toews scored his third goal of the playoffs to tie it for the Blackawks at 4:24 of the second of Game 6 — exactly two minutes after teammate Andrew Shaw was penalized for roughing.
“In 2010, we didn't really know what we were doing,” Toews said. “We just, we played great hockey and we were kind of oblivious to how good we were playing.
“This time around, we know definitely how much work it takes and how much sacrifice it takes to get back here and this is an unbelievable group. We've been through a lot together this year and this is a sweet way to finish it off.”