For the third time in six years, the NHL season ended with the Chicago Blackhawks hoisting the Stanley Cup.
Conn Smythe winner Duncan Keith scored the game-winner in the second period, Patrick Kane tacked on insurance in the third period for the only two-goal lead for either team all series, and Corey Crawford stopped all 25 shots as the Hawks closed out the Tampa Bay Lightning with a 2-0 victory in Game 6.
The Hawks took control of the game from the middle of the first period on. They outshot the Lightning 13-4 during a scoreless first period, and finally broke through against Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop in the second.
Kane, who had been held to just one assist over the first five games of the finals, lived up to his reputation as a money player in elimination games. He received a blind pass from Brad Richards, skated past the Tampa Bay blue line, stopped, and delivered a saucer pass to Keith, who fired a quick shot on Bishop. The Lightning goalie denied it with his pads, but left a fat rebound with nobody around. Keith beat everybody to the puck and chipped it over a sliding Bishop to break the tie with just under three minutes left in the second.
The scoreboard finally reflected the play on the ice, which was tilted in the Blackhawks' favor. Crawford survived a couple close calls from Steven Stamkos -- a shot that rang off the crossbar in the first half the first period, and a breakaway attempt in the second. But after Crawford shut down the latter, quality scoring opportunities were few and far between.
The Blackhawks had more success in that category, even as the Lightning tried to rally in the third period. Bishop did what he could, but he faced one odd-man rush too many. With under five minutes remaining in the game, Richards carried the puck on a 2-on-1 with Kane. Everybody anticipated Kane taking the shot, but Richards held the puck long enough for defenseman Jason Garrison to flinch in Richards' direction. That opened up the passing lane, and Kane buried a one-timer into a vacant net to give the Hawks some breathing room.
The Lightning pulled Bishop shortly after, and an Andrew Desjardins penalty gave Tampa Bay a 6-on-4 for two of the last three minutes, but they couldn't sustain an attack.
Keith took home the Conn Smythe trophy as the playoffs' most valuable player. It was his award even before the game, but he sealed it with the game-winner and 30 minutes and 19 seconds of ice time, the most by any player in the game. However, the entire defensive unit stepped up their games, with Johnny Oduya blocking seven shots and Niklas Hjalmarsson keeping Crawford's area clear. Fact is, pretty much everybody delivered.
Seven Hawks now have three championship rings. One of them is Patrick Sharp, who likely played his last game in a Blackhawks sweater as the team tries to manage a roster full of money players through another impending salary cap crunch. But for at least a few days, he and the rest of the Blackhawks can bask in another championship glow, made even sweeter by clinching their first Cup at home since 1938.
Meanwhile, the White Sox lost to the Pirates 11-0. Carlos Rodon allowed five runs on a walk and five hits before recording his first out, and the Sox position players racked up more errors (three) than hits (two).