This Monday, after a series of hard-fought games on the ice, the Chicago Blackhawks took down the Tampa Lightning 2-0 in game 6 to secure their third Stanley cup victory within the past six NHL season. This also marks the first Stanley Cup victory within the the teams home town of Chicago since 1938.
This year’s cup was a dog fight from the beginning but finally ended as the Blackhawks secured their victory 4-2. The winning shot was made by Duncan Keith, who was later awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the playoffs. “It feels so great,” Keith was quoted as saying. “You want to keep being a part of these things. You don’t get these awards without being on great teams with great players, and I’m just proud to be a part of this group of guys who cares so much and do whatever it takes.”
Another notable feat was by Goalie Corey Crawford who stopped all 23 shots made by Tampa that night. The first goal of the night was made by winger Patrick Kane, his first of the Stanley Cup Final. Kane then assisted defender Keith for the defining goal of the night.
This was no easy victory for Chicago, however, as Tampa was determined to play until the end. After the teams traded chances in the second period, Keith broke through at 17:13 to give the Blackhawks a hard-earned lead. Brad Richards got the play going with a pass to Patrick Kane on right wing, stopping at the top of the attacking zone, which allowed Keith to enter with some momentum. Kane fed the puck to Keith and the defender fired through Cedric Paquette, using him as a screen.
Lightning goalie Ben Bishop made the save but left the rebound, allowing Keith to put the puck over Bishop’s glove to score the game’s first goal. All this compounded to create an intense third and final period. Canadian-born team captain for the Lightning, Steven Stamkos, almost saved the day twice, first with a shot that rang the crossbar at 12 min in the third and again on a breakaway facing Crawford where he just needed to elevate the puck over his head. Another missed attempt by the Lighting was by Johnathan Towes, who nearly made a goal with the shaft of his stick during a power play.
Tampa’s relentless drive to play made this an unsure game until the end. “At some point, you just can’t keep playing the same guy over and over because then they become ineffective,” said head coach for Tampa, Jon Cooper. “But our top players are getting the minutes. It’s the full 60 minutes here we have to dwell on. We can’t sit here and say, I know we need that goal in the last minute, but I’ve learned that you keep putting the same guys out the last four minutes. By the time you got to the last two minutes, they’ve got nothing left.”
This Stanley Cup did not only make the end of this year’s season, but also the career of 40-year-old Finnish defender for Chicago, Kimmo Timonen, who, after a lifetime on the NHL pro-circuit, retires a champion. With over 1,100 matches played, Timonen is one of the most seasoned players alive but refused to retire until he could leave a winner. “I leave this game as a Stanley Cup champion,” Timonen said. “And I can’t ask for anything more than that.”