Ending a drought that nearly lasted half a century, the Chicago Blackhawks have brought Lord Stanley's mug back to the Windy City for the first time since 1961.
Both teams had won their respective home games throughout the series heading into Thursday night's 4-3 Chicago victory in overtime, so it was down to the last two games. The first side to blink would go empty-handed.
Game Six at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia was loud and exciting, as it took overtime to sort out whether this series was continuing on to Chicago for a deciding Game Seven or if the Blackhawks were determined to end it there.
The Blackhawks opened up the scoring on the power play. Dustin Byfuglien got his stick on a Johnathan Toews shot from goalie Michael Leighton's left which careened off Coburn's leg.
Here come the lucky bounces. Lucky or not, it counted. Hawks up 1-0
Shortly after that, The Flyers knot it up with less than a minute to the period.
Scott Hartnell was hacked in the leg by Duncan Keith and went down. Play was continuing and he staying the game. The Flyers were rewarded with Danny Briere shooting from the point and it got to goalie Antti Niemi. Hartnell alertly saw the rebound and quickly backhanded it in the net. Score one all.
The Blackhawks were keeping Leighton busy as they grossly outshot the Flyers 41-24. The SOG stat was not telling the full story. The young Chicago squad were laying their bodies on the line with 22 blocked shots to prevent a number of them to even get to Niemi. The Flyers blocked 20. This was a game both teams were hungry for.
The period was fast and I mean fast. Both teams were hitting hard and getting chances to shoot.
Although some commentators were saying that Chicago were outplaying the Flyers, I respectfully disagreed. The Flyers were getting some decent chances just as much or more than the Blackhawks. Philadelphia out hit Chicago 27-17 and the hitting was across the board with the exception of Mike Richards who shared the top hitting stat with Byfuglien earning six in the game.
The second period didn't see any scoring until about halfway with Danny Briere. He got a nice pass by Ville Leino from Niemi's right to left and Briere put it over the goaltender's left shoulder to take the lead at 2-1.
There was a factor of Keith's skate colliding with Hartnell's and caused him to come out of the play and that left two very dangerous players open to cause damage. Replay also initially showed that Hartnell may have been offside as he lifted his skate from the result of the contact. Slow motion replay showed that the skate came back down onside just a hair on time.
Patrick Sharp scored when it was four on four as the open ice allowed them to pass the puck from one side of the ice to the other. The puck went from Leighton's right to left; from Keith, to Bolland, to Sharp who wrist shot it to knot the game up at two.
The Hawks retake the lead with Hjalmarsson ripping a slap shot from the point and Andrew Ladd was at the doorstep to redirect it. 3-2, Blackhawks.
With four minutes and one second left to play, the Flyers knotted the game up again. The Flyers got a break as the puck was shot in and it went off Niemi to Brent Seabrook. He made a blind backhanded clearing attempt, but the pick got to an unsuspecting Marian Hossa, who reacted instinctively. The instinct resulted in Scott Hartnell getting his second goal of the night and forced overtime.
This was the third goal in this series in memory that a blind backhanded clearing attempt by the Blackhawks cost them a goal.
Of all people to be the factor of forcing overtime, Marian Hossa was in this third year in a row to get to the Stanley Cup Finals in a bid to raise that cup over his head. One can't help but to think that this could be his fate.
OT almost didn't happen as Richards nearly got a shot off over Niemi as the puck struck his shoulder and mask as he was going down. A split second later and it would have been the go ahead and quite possibly Game Seven in Chicago.
Overtime was nearly done in the opening seconds as Claude Giroux nearly sneaked in to end it but Niemi stopped play to extend the game.
Patrick Kane got the game winning goal but it seemed that only Kane knew that he got the goal. With the puck nowhere in sight, Kane, was skating up the ice throwing his stick and gloves and rushing to Niemi to celebrate. Even his team mates weren't sure what happened and there was a long delay before the rest of the team and and all in attendance at the Wachovia Center realized just what happened.
Kane skated up the boards faking out Mikko Timonen to wrist it five-hole on Leighton from a sharp angle. The puck then buried itself in the netting's apron which proved to be the season ender.
"I knew it was in right away," Kane said. "I just tried to take off and book it to the other end and try to sell the celebration. It was crazy. It's unbelievable to be a part of this."
Antti Niemi becomes the first Finnish goalie to earn a Stanley Cup ring.
"I tried not to think about it, but of course it is unbelievable," Niemi told NHL.com as he broke a celebratory embrace with his wife, Jonna, at center ice. "There have been two guys in the Final before, and it's unbelievable being the first one because I haven't been the best goalie."
Marian Hossa finally got to hoist the cup and Toews handed the cup to him first as soon as he enjoyed the ceremonial presentation.
"Oh my God," said Hossa, who was grinning ear-to-ear on the Wachovia Center ice. "When we go to the Finals again, I was so happy to be in the Finals, but at the same time, it was scary. I'm so glad, what a relief. Third time's the lucky charm. I won it and I got a Stanley Cup and ... what a feeling. This is unbelievable."
This was in the plans should the Hawks win it.
"We talked about it very, very briefly this morning," said Toews, who captured the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs. "We didn't want to get overexcited or think too much of the end result, but mentioned it to him this morning to be ready, that if we did happen to hoist it tonight, that alternate captains Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp both agreed that he should be the first guy after myself to grab it."
"It's special for him. And I can't imagine being a part of three long seasons like that and to win one finally. It's amazing for all of us. But especially for him, too, for sure."
Take a bow, Chicago Blackhawks; You are the 2009-2010 Stanley Cup Champions.
Thanks to both teams for giving all of us a great series.
This is Cory Ducey saying "Hit Hard, But Keep It Clean" for the final time of the 2009-10 season.