The Chicago Blackhawks pulled off a stunning comeback win with two goals in the last 1:16 to beat the Boston Bruins 3-2 on Monday and claim NHL's Stanley Cup for the second time in four seasons.
The series looked like going to a deciding Game 7 until Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland scored just 17 seconds apart in the dying stages of the third period to steal the victory and complete a 4-2 series win.
With the seconds ticking away and the home fans anticipating a celebration, Jonathan Toews fed a pass to Bickell who scored from the edge of the crease to tie it 2-2.
Perhaps the Bruins expected it to go to overtime, as three of the first four games in the series did, because they seemed to be caught off-guard on the ensuing faceoff. A shot deflected by Michael Frolik went off the post right to Bolland, who put it in the net and started the Chicago celebration with 59 seconds left in the game.
"It's huge," Bolland said. "Just seeing that puck bounce around there, I knew I just had to tap it in. So it was a huge goal."
The Blackhawks on the ice gathered in the corner, while the Blackhawks bench began jumping up and down. It was only a minute later, when Boston's goalie Tuukka Rask was off for an extra man, that the Hawks had withstood Boston's final push and surged over the boards, throwing their sticks and gloves across the ice.
"I still can't believe that finish," goaltender Corey Crawford said. "Oh my God, we never quit."
The Bruins got 28 saves from Rask, who was hoping to contribute to an NHL title after serving as Tim Thomas' backup when Boston won it all two years ago.
The sellout TD Garden crowd had been chanting "We want the Cup!" after Milan Lucic's goal put the Bruins up 2-1 with eight minutes left, but it fell silent after their team coughed up the lead.
The arena was almost empty except for a few hundred fans in red Blackhawks sweaters who filtered down to the front rows when the Chicago players passed the 35-pound Cup around the ice.
Patrick Kane, whose overtime goal in Game 6 beat Philadelphia to win the 2010 championship, was voted the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as playoffs MVP.
"It was the best year of my life, just playing with these guys," Kane said.
Toews returned from injury and scored his third goal of the playoffs to tie the game 1-1 at 4:24 of the second period exactly two minutes after teammate Andrew Shaw was penalized for roughing.
"In 2010, we didn't really know what we were doing," Toews said. "We just, we played great hockey and we were kind of oblivious to how good we were playing.
"This time around, we know definitely how much work it takes and how much sacrifice it takes to get back here and this is an unbelievable group. We've been through a lot together this year and this is a sweet way to finish it off."
Boston, needing a win to extend the series to a deciding Game 7, came out aggressively and led 1-0 after one period on Chris Kelly's second goal of the playoffs. The Bruins outshot the Blackhawks 12-6 in the first period but the margin dropped to 18-15 through 40 minutes.
Toews scored when he got past Boston defenceman Zdeno Chara along the boards in the neutral zone. Chicago's captain skated up the right side and fired a hard shot from the right faceoff dot that beat Rask between his pads.