Kane do: Hawks bring Cup home to Chicago
PHILADELPHIA - They did it for themselves.
They did it for their veteran coach, Joel Quenneville, who pushed all the right buttons for nine months.
They did it for their owner, Rocky Wirtz, who saved NHL hockey in Chicago.
And they did it for those loyal fans who stuck it out through some of the darkest days in franchise history just a few short years ago.
The young and brash Blackhawks delivered a Stanley Cup Wednesday night, ending a 49-year drought by beating the Flyers 4-3 in overtime at the Wachovia Center on Patrick Kane's goal at 4:06 of the extra period.
Kane's goal - officially now the biggest in franchise history - surprised everyone in the building except Kane, who saw the puck slip through goalie Michael Leighton and lodge in the back padding.
While Kane knew it was in, it took a few moments for even his teammates to react, setting off a wild celebration on the ice when they realized what had happened.
"What a weird moment," Marian Hossa said. "Kaner saw it going in, but I had to ask the referee because I wanted to make sure. He told me it was in, and that's when I started celebrating."
Kane flipped off his gloves and went looking for teammates to hug.
"I don't think he would have thrown his gloves off like that if he wasn't 100 percent sure," Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "It was kind of an awkward celebration. We didn't know what to do."
Kane's goal came from a sharp angle to the left of the net.
"I beat my man off the wall and took a shot at the net," Kane said. "It was kind of like the Olympic goal (by Sidney Crosby). It went right through his legs and stuck to the pad. I think I was the only guy who knew it was in.
"This is something I'll never forget. I don't think it's really sunk in yet. This is just unbelievable. I mean, we just won the Stanley Cup."
"That's a goal he's going to remember the rest of his life," Toews said.
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Moments after Kane's goal, the glimmering Stanley Cup was brought onto the ice and handed to the 22-year-old Toews by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.
"The pressure we were facing all season to get to this point and win a Stanley Cup, we knew we could do it," Toews said.
The celebration lasted well more than an hour on the ice.
"This is surreal," Patrick Sharp said.
"I think the party in Chicago is going to be all-world," Quenneville said.
Toews was named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as playoff MVP, capping an incredible first three seasons for himself and Kane, who have gone from top prospects to NHL superstars.
The arrival of Toews and Kane as rookies three years ago helped revitalize the franchise along with Wirtz, who took over from his late father and made all the right moves that culminated in what happened Wednesday.
"Jonathan Toews is a special human being," Quenneville said.
Hossa finally won a Cup in his third try in as many seasons with his third team. Hossa was the first guy Toews gave the Cup to after he hoisted it first.
"I was hoping to win this one day. What a feeling," Hossa said.
The Hawks took a 3-2 lead to the third period and were within four minutes of winning the Cup when the Flyers' Scott Hartnell scored with 3:59 left in regulation to force overtime.
Until the final minutes the Hawks had been preserving the lead brilliantly, but on a Flyers rush the puck went off Brent Seabrook's stick and Hossa's skate to Hartnell in front for his second goal of the game.
"You're three minutes away from winning the Cup and all of a sudden they score," Quenneville said. "The guys just had a great approach in the locker room after the third. We very diligently went about our business in overtime."
"We just said someone has to be the hero," Toews said. "It didn't matter who got the goal."
Kane was happy to oblige.
"Our bench deflated pretty good there after their goal," Kane said. "We had to pick it up in the locker room."
The Flyers kept coming after Hartnell's tying goal and it took a huge save by Antti Niemi on Jeff Carter with 1:30 left for the Hawks to survive for overtime.
The Hawks had the start they wanted, dominating the first period, but they went to the intermission 1-1 thanks to a late power-play goal by Hartnell.
Dustin Byfuglien and Sharp had the goals for the Hawks that made it 2-2 late into the third period. Andrew Ladd's tip-in goal at 17:43 of the second looked as if it might hold up.
Kane's OT goal was the first to decide a Stanley Cup since Jason Arnott did it for New Jersey in 2000 against Dallas.
"I don't even know how to explain this," Duncan Keith said. "It gives me chills thinking about it."
Tim Sassone's game tracker
Blackhawks 4, Flyers 3 (OT)
1. Patrick Kane, Hawks: Scored the Stanley Cup winning goal in overtime and added 2 assists.
2. Antti Niemi, Hawks: Made 21 saves but none bigger than the one on Jeff Carter with 1:30 left in regulation to preserve the tie.
3. Scott Hartnell, Flyers: Two goals and 5 hits in a gritty effort from the winger.
Dramatic as they come
Patrick Kane became the first player since New Jersey's Jason Arnott in 2000 to clinch the Stanley Cup with a goal in overtime.
"I don't think it's really sunk in yet. This is just unbelievable. I mean we just won the Stanley Cup." - Hawks winger Patrick Kane