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In one of the strangest ways to end a title-winning game, the Blackhawks defeated the Flyers in overtime 4-3, Wednesday night, clinching their first championship in 47 years.
Patrick Kane slid his shot right through Philadelphia goalie Michael Leighton four minutes into overtime in a way that only he could see it go in the net. With the rest of the arena trying to find the puck, Kane threw his arms in the air and raced to the down the rink, much to the delight of his teammates who had figured it out. The wait was over.
“I knew it went in right away,” Kane said. “What a feeling. I can’t believe it. We just won the Stanley Cup. I can’t believe this just happened. … It’s something you dream about, scoring the final goal in the Stanley Cup finals.”
Heading into the third period leading by a score of 3-2, Chicago kept the pressure on the Flyers firing 12 shots in the period, to Philly’s nine. In the position the Blackhawks were in, one period away from a championship, many coaches and teams would opt to play a defensive third period and merely try to hold off the other team from scoring. But not this Chicago team. This team was different.
For much of the season this Blackhawks team was dubbed as the team to end the drought. Led by captain Jonathon Toews, Marian Hossa and Kane, Chicago was a top-team the entire regular season and turned out to be the only team that the Cinderella Philadelphia Flyers could not beat.
Like they would, the Flyers made one last push towards the end of regulation trailing 3-2. With the Philadelphia offense revved into desperation mode, Scott Hartnell was leveled by Toews right in front of the crease as he knocked a loose puck in to make it 3-3 with 3:59 left in the third, tying the game at three. The Flyers magic though, finally ran out in overtime.
“It’s no consolation,” Hartnell said. “The storybook ending ended the wrong way for us. It hurts.”
While Hartnell’s passion and emotion was understandable, this improbable run by the seventh seeded Flyers was one for the ages. Philadelphia clinched a playoff spot in the last game of the season and then proceeded to tackle the Devils, Bruins and Canadiens before meeting the Blackhaws in the Stanley Cup Finals.
“In the long run, everybody should be proud with what we did this year,” Flyers forward Jeff Carter said. “We overcame a lot of adversity. The guys should be proud of what we accomplished.”
Toews, the Conn Smythe Trophy winner, was first to touch the Cup, taking it from commissioner Gary Bettman and hoisting it above his head in triumph. Marian Hossa, whose last two attempts at a title were denied the last two years with Detroit and Pittsburgh, was next. He lifted it and bench-pressed the big trophy, snapping his head back in exhilaration.
“I’m so happy I finally did it,” Hossa said. “We couldn’t just put our heads down. We had to work, and we knew we could do it.”