One more! Blackhawks on cusp of winning Stanley Cup after 3-1 Game 5 win
Jonathan Toews was stuck on the bench, cracking a stray joke here and there but unsuccessfully lobbying Joel Quenneville to give him a shift as he dealt with the apparent after-effects of a devastating hit by Boston’s Johnny Boychuk. Marian Hossa was on the ice, but still clearly not at 100 percent, mustering one shot on goal in a quiet game. Patrick Sharp was buzzing once again, but was snakebitten — one shot going off the side of the net, one shot stopped in spectacular fashion, one shot sailing just wide.
So it fell to Patrick Kane to get the Blackhawks to the brink of a championship.
Just the way he likes it.
Kane scored two goals and the Blackhawks held on for a 3-1 victory over the Boston Bruins in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday night. The win puts the Hawks on the brink of their second championship in four seasons, and they’ll have their first chance to hoist the Stanley Cup on Monday night in Boston’s TD Garden.
“Everyone wants to be that guy in big-time games,” Kane said. “And I’ve been lucky enough in a couple to step up.”
It was Kane who scored the Cup-winning goal in Philadelphia in 2010. It was Kane who had a hat trick, including the overtime winner, to eliminate the Kings last round. And it was Kane who decided the crucial Game 5 Monday night at the United Center as carnage and uncertainty reigned all around him.
Toews never left the bench in the third, but Quenneville said he was “hopeful” he’d play in Game 6. Meanwhile, Boston’s Patrice Bergeron — like Toews, an indispensable, Selke-caliber two-way center — was taken by ambulance to a local hospital for observation after suffering an undisclosed injury after skating less than a minute in the second period. He walked to the ambulance under his own power.
Before Toews was obliterated from behind by Boychuck while coming across the low slot on a spectacular move to the net — a borderline hit the league was looking at as of Saturday night — the Hawks captain, along with his linemates Kane and Bryan Bickell, continued their strong play from Game 4. As promised, they stopped deferring to Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara and took the action to him. Chara was on the ice and Toews got an assist on both of Kane’s goals — a nifty tuck-in of a Johnny Oduya rebound late in the first period, and a chip-in of a Bickell wrap-around rebound early in the second. Chara has now been on the ice for seven of the last eight Hawks’ goals.
Chara got a bit of redemption with a goal early in the third period as the Bruins applied relentless pressure, but Corey Crawford (24 saves) and the Hawks defense did what they couldn’t do in Game 4 — shut the door.
Toews said after Game 4 that the Hawks had been showing Chara too much “respect,” raising the hackles of some of the Bruins and the Boston media. But the Hawks said it was just a matter of dictating play, rather than having it dictated to them. Even with the last line change at home, Quenneville kept sending the top line out against Chara.
“I didn’t look at it as being disrespectful; I think there is a fine line between respectful and being overly respectful,” defenseman Duncan Keith said. “We’ve got to play our game. We’ve done that the last couple of games a little bit more.”
As a result, the Hawks have turned a 2-1 series deficit into a 3-2 series lead. And now comes the restless sleep. Now come the wandering thoughts, the tantalizing visions and possibilities that are so close, so within reach.
One goal. Just one win away.
“This is what you work for, this opportunity,” Kane said. “We’ve got to seize the moment and take advantage of it.”