BOSTON – The Bruins were less than two minutes away from turning the clock back to 2011, then the Blackhawks wound it all the way back to 2010.
In a gust of late, improbable offense Monday night, Chicago clinched bringing its second Stanley Cup title in four seasons back to the Windy City with a stunning, 3-2 comeback Game 6 win over the Boston Bruins at TD Garden, scoring two goals in a span of 17 seconds in the final 1:16 of regulation.
Winger Bryan Bickell scored the game-tying goal with 1:16 remaining in the third period, and then winger Dave Bolland batted home a Johnny Oduya rebound with 58.3 seconds to play.
A dumbfounded Bruins team wonders what could have been, as they held a 2-1 lead with 1:16 remaining.
Boston winger Milan Lucic had scored with 7:49 remaining in the third period of a tension-filled game to snap a 1-1 tie, seemingly staving off elimination for a Game 7 Wednesday back in Chicago. But the Bruins weren’t able to replicate their 2011 magic, when they trailed the Vancouver Canucks in the Final series, 3-2, before winning Game 6, 5-2, at home and then capturing the Cup with a 4-0 shutout of Canucks in Game 7.
Instead, the Blackhawks repeated what they had accomplished in 2010: Going on the road, up 3-2 on the Philadelphia Flyers and closing out the Cup in a hostile arena. Corey Crawford made 23 saves for the victorious Hawks.
The game was tied, 1-1, going to the third period even though Boston had dominated the first 20 minutes for an early 1-0 lead.
The Blackhawks regained their composure in the second, tightened up their neutral zone defense and evened the score with 15:36 remaining on captain Jonathan Toews’ third goal of the playoffs. Toews had sat out the entire third period of Game 5 as a precaution due to repeated hits to the head, but he returned healthy.
Brian Bickell (c.) scores the game-tying goal in the third period.
On the game-tying goal, former Rangers defenseman Michal Rozsival poked the puck off a neutral zone faceoff past a pinching Zdeno Chara. Toews raced past the Bruins defenseman to develop a two-on-one before ripping a wrist shot through the five-hole of Boston goalie Tuukka Rask (28 saves).
Boston struggled to handle the surge without injured forward Jaromir Jagr, a 41-year-old ex-Ranger, whose absence forced coach Claude Julien to switch up his lines and lean heavier on young forward Tyler Seguin (assist). Jagr, whose injury was unknown, played just two shifts in the second period and returned for the third but was not as effective as he had been prior.
The Bruins authored a blistering first period and led 1-0 after 20 minutes on Chris Kelly’s goal 7:19 in off feeds from Seguin and Daniel Paille.
Boston only outshot Chicago, 12-6, in the first, but the 32-8 disparity in shots attempted told the real story of how heavily the Bruins were able to tilt the ice early. The B’s also won 17-of-24 faceoffs in the period, led by Kelly’s 6-of-7.
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Jonathan Toews celebrates a goal in the second period against the Bruins.
Injuries also started to mount for the Blackhawks.
Crawford was shaken up by a David Krejci slap shot to the mask with 8:59 remaining in the first period that caused Chicago’s goalie to remove his mask and the official to stop play. But he stayed in the game.
With 4:01 to go, Hawks third-line center Andrew Shaw was knocked out cold on the ice when he was hit in the right cheek by the puck on a shot by Bruins winger Shawn Thornton. Shaw was able to skate to the locker room with the help of his teammates and returned for the second period.
Then with 15 seconds remaining, Hawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson rose from the ice shaky after a collision and skated hunched over the bench and straight into the locker room.