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updated: 6/9/2013 5:48 PM

Newer Hawks thrilled about Cup opportunity

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  • Corey Crawford, here poking away a shot against the Kings on Saturday in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals, is eager to be a central figure for the Hawks in the upcoming Stanley Cup.

      Corey Crawford, here poking away a shot against the Kings on Saturday in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals, is eager to be a central figure for the Hawks in the upcoming Stanley Cup.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Video: Crawford on Game 5

 
 

The United Center may never have been as loud as it was in the third period Saturday night, with the final seconds ticking away and a return trip to the Stanley Cup Finals looking more and more like a reality for the Blackhawks.

From the moment Patrick Kane snapped a 2-2 tie with less than four minutes remaining, the place had been up for grabs.

And it wasn't just the sellout crowd going crazy. The reaction shot on the Hawks' bench after Kane's goal -- particularly the unadulterated joy on Andrew Shaw's face -- said it all.

Even though it's only been three years since the Hawks won the Cup, a large number of players in the lineup throughout the postseason have never made the trip. And no, watching it on television doesn't count.

"For us, I think there's comparisons obviously that are always going to be made to the 2010 team, but I think for a lot of guys in here, maybe only half of the team was here when that was going on," said Patrick Kane, hitting the correct number on the head. So a lot of guys want to make their own memories from this team, and we want to make some more, too."

That would include goalie Corey Crawford, who, if he isn't the team's playoff MVP so far, is running a close second.

When the Hawks were winning the Cup in 2010, Crawford was part of the so-called black aces. This year he is simply one of the aces, and thrilled to be moving on to the finals.

"It's crazy, the excitement," Crawford said after his 33-save performance. "Maybe it's a little bit of relief. It was just another hurdle for us."

When Kane scored his go-ahead goal late in the third, it sure looked like some hurdles had been cleared, but Mike Richards' game-tying goal with 10 seconds left in regulation put those dreams on hold.

That lasted for one full overtime period and midway into the second when Kane capped off a night to remember with his third goal of the game to catapult the Hawks into the finals where they will meet the Boston Bruins.

And for many of the young players in the locker room after the game, the thought of what lies ahead was filling their heads.

"There's just such excitement," Michael Frolik said. "I never imagined I would be this far. It obviously feels good. It was always a dream."

Added Brandon Saad: "It's unbelievable. It's my first year which makes it even more special. We're all excited about it."

And Bryan Bickell: "It's another opportunity for this team to win. I felt going into this season that we had great team that could make a good run."

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