The Hawks were one win away from the Stanley Cup in Game 6 against the Bruins. A team with the same core but different players in orbit around it, a roster reconstructed and three years later rejuvenated, the best team in hockey this season looking to affirm itself as the best team in hockey, period.
"We feel confident," Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said before the game. "We worked very hard in the last couple months to get here."
The Bruins ensured they'd have to work to hoist a trophy Monday. But Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland goals in a span of 17 seconds late in the third period propelled the Hawks to a stunning 3-2 win and a second Stanley Cup championship in four years.
Bickell scored at the 18:44 mark after Toews sent a pass through the wickets of the Bruins' Zdeno Chara in front of the net, with Bickell then one-timing a score through Tuukka Rask's five-hole for the stunning equalizer to make it 2-2.
The Hawks were not done authoring a comeback for the ages. A Johnny Oduya blast from the point seconds later found traffic in front and then Bolland, who punched home a rebound off the post for a 3-2 lead with 58.3 seconds left.
Jonathan Toews scored in the second period to tie the game 1-1 and give the Hawks some life, but net traffic for the Bruins paid off for the go-ahead goal. David Krejci worked behind the net and Toews' stick knocked the puck down to the ice when Krejci attempted to pass into the slot.
The loose change came to Lucic, who flung a shot off the post and then off Hawks goalie Corey Crawford's back and into the net for the 2-1 lead at the 12:11 mark.
After enduring a dominant first period from the hosts, the Hawks got a goal from Toews to make it a 1-1 game after two periods of Game 6.
The Bruins were buzzing during the entire first period and especially just before a timeout a little less than midway through, in which Corey Crawford was pushed back into his net to make a save. Out of the television break, it didn't take the Bruins long to cash in.
Off a faceoff win in the offensive zone, the puck eventually made its way to Tyler Seguin, who grabbed it out of the air, dumped it to the ice and then backhanded a pass through the slot to Kelly, who beat Hawks goalie Corey Crawford for the 1-0 edge at the 7:19 mark.
The Hawks managed little in the way of significant offensive chances and took their first two penalties since Game 4 during the first period. The Bruins very nearly cashed in on the second power play but David Krejci couldn't finish a dynamite feed from Brad Marchand, leaving the lead at one entering the first intermission.
The Hawks were a bit bruised, but definitely battered. Andrew Shaw took a puck to the face with four minutes left in the first period and lay on the ice for several moments before skating off under his own power but holding a towel to his face to stanch the bleeding.
And after a Shaw penalty early in the second appeared to halt the Hawks chances to muster any momentum, Toews reset it. The captain won a neutral zone faceoff near the end of the penalty, then scooped up the puck after the Bruins' Zdeno Chara whiffed on it at the blue line.
Toews charged in unimpeded and whipped a shot that beat the Bruins' Tuukka Rask five-hole for his third goal of the playoffs and the 1-1 tie at the 4:24 mark.
Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson was also banged up during the final seconds of the first and skated directly into the dressing room just before the period ended.
Toews' appearance was at least the first bit of good news for the Hawks on Monday, as the captain took the ice in the morning skate and would play after sitting out the third period off Game 5.
The Bruins got their own reinforcement, however, with center Patrice Bergeron returning to the lineup after an injury forced him out of most of Game 5.
All this while the Hawks spent all day stewing while looking for their second Cup in four seasons.
"It's an exciting day," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "You want to make sure that you're confident out there and play that way. You can't get ahead of yourself going into this game, and you've just got to get excited about your first shift. Then from there get excited about your next shift. It's something you dream about, so let's make sure we prepare the right way."
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