The Chicago Blackhawks clinched the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals in one of the most improbable endings in the history of the NHL. Trailing 2-1 with just over a minute to go in regulation of Game Six, the eventual champs scored two goals in 17 seconds to win their fourth title in four years.
With 1:16 left in the third period, Bryan Bickell sent a goal past Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, on a pass from Jonathan Toews. The two teams appeared to be headed to overtime for a fourth time in the series. However, Dave Bolland ended the Bruins chances by scoring his third goal of the playoffs with 59 seconds remaining. He silenced a Boston crowd that was sure their team was forcing a Game Seven in Chicago.
Despite not getting a point in the finale, Patrick Kane won the Conn Smythe Trophy. He registered nine goals and 10 assists in the postseason to win the award. Kane may have been the biggest reason the Blackhawks were able to win the final three games of the Stanley Cup Finals, climbing out of a 2-1 series deficit.
The Blackhawks are the first team in the salary cap era to win multiple championships. The cap has made it difficult for clubs to keep their best players, and the 2010 Blackhawks may be the perfect example. After winning the Stanley Cup, Chicago made multiple trades and had to release goaltender Antti Niemi. They ended the 2010-2011 season with a third place finish in the Central Division and a first-round playoff loss.
This time around, however, the Blackhawks won’t have to make as many changes. According to Chicago general manager Stan Bowman, the team will look relatively similar in 2014.
"We're going to make some changes, but nothing like before," Bowman said. "That was tough at the time to remake everybody. Overall, I think we've done a good job of putting ourselves in a good position. We have some young players that have taken roles on the team and grown in their roles. It's nice to see it all come together."
Corey Crawford, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are all under contract for the 2013-2014 season, giving the Blackhawks three of the best players at their position. Chicago proved in the regular season that their playoff run was no fluke, starting the year with 24 games without a regulation loss and leading the NHL in points. They became the first team to win the Stanley Cup and the Presidents’ Trophy in the same year since the Detroit Red Wings did it in 2008.
In hockey, it’s very hard for teams to repeat as champions. The MLB, NBA and NFL have all seen back-to-back champions more recently than the NHL. Chicago, however, may have as good of a chance as any club in the past decade to win two straight titles.
Below are video highlights of the final two goals of Game Six. The last team to win the Stanley Cup on the road was Boston in 2011.