A look back from cover to cover: 16 wins to claim the Cup
It didn't come without a few nervous moments, but maybe that's better, because when win No. 16 finally arrived - when the Chicago Blackhawks hoisted the Stanley Cup at the Wachovia Center on Wednesday night - it made all that hard work, all that dedication and all the highs and lows absolutely worth it. To help you relive each special moment, here's a glance back at each victory, along with our covers marking the historic journey:
Win No. 1: Hawks 2, Predators 0
In Game 2 of the series, the Hawks played a textbook playoff game at the United Center to even the series at 1-1 heading to Nashville.
Quote: "Everyone was pumped up to play. We wanted to get that (Game 1 loss) back. You see the other seven series were 1-1 and we didn't want to be the only series 0-2."- Patrick Kane
Win No. 2: Hawks 3, Predators 0
In the fourth game of the series, a game in which the Hawks desperately needed their big boys to come through, that's exactly who delivered. Patrick Sharp scored twice, Jonathan Toews once, and Antti Niemi made 33 saves to earn his second shutout of the series.
Quote: "You never want to say must-win this early, but we went in knowing we had to win this one for sure." - Patrick Sharp
Win No. 3: Hawks 5, Predators 4 (OT)
There are improbable wins, and then there is what the Blackhawks were able to pull off at the United Center in Game 5. Trailing 4-3, Patrick Kane scored the tying goal with 13.6 seconds left while the Hawks were short-handed. Then in overtime, Marian Hossa got the game-winner just seconds after stepping out of the penalty box.
Win No. 4: Hawks 5, Predators 3
A way tougher series than anticipated finally came to an end in six games. Jonathan Toews scored the game-winner, and Patrick Sharp had a goal and 2 assists.
Quote: "From the first shift of Game 1 right to the end there with the empty net, it was one of the toughest series we've seen as a team." - Patrick Sharp
Win No. 5: Hawks 4, Canucks 2
After the Canucks stunned another packed house at the UC with a pair of goals in the first five minutes, the Hawks fought back to even the Western Conference semifinals at 1-1 thanks to Kris Versteeg's game-winner with 1:30 remaining.
Win No. 6: Hawks 5, Canucks 2
Dustin Byfuglien put on a clinic in this one, registering a hat trick to lead the romp. The Canucks had no answer for the 6-foot-4, 257-pound Byfuglien, who scored all 3 of his goals from around the net in Game 3 of the series. Jonathan Toews added 3 assists.
Quote: "That was the best game I've ever seen Buff play." - Kris Versteeg
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Win No. 7: Hawks 7, Canucks 4
Jonathan Toews had a hat trick and Dustin Byfuglien was nearly unstoppable for the second game in a row as the Blackhawks made the undisciplined Vancouver Canucks pay dearly in a victory at GM Place that put the Hawks up 3-1 in the series.
Quote: "We didn't react well to what was going on the ice, and they made us pay for it." - Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault
Win No. 8: Hawks 5, Canucks 1
The Blackhawks ended any chance for a Game 7 showdown with a dominating win led by Dustin Byfuglien, who had a goal, an assist and a big check that knocked Alex Edler out of the game.
Quote: "Every time you've got a chance to finish a team off you've got to act like it's your last game as well." - John Madden
Win No. 9: Hawks 2, Sharks 1
Niemi says No! Antti Niemi played his best game to date, turning away 44 shots and Dustin Byfuglien began a string of game-winners that would define the Western Conference finals.
Quote: "If you haven't figured out he's a great goaltender by now you're not watching the games." - Patrick Sharp on Niemi
Win No. 10: Hawks 4, Sharks 2
Jonathan Toews led the sweep in San Jose with a goal and an assist in Game 2 as the Hawks had the fans at HP Pavilion booing more than just former Shark Brian Campbell by the time this one was over.
Quote: "We're on a mission right now."- Brian Campbell
Win No. 11: Hawks 3, Sharks 2 (OT)
Antti Niemi recorded his second 44-save performance of the conference finals, and Dustin Byfuglien, off a pretty assist from behind the net by Dave Bolland, potted the game-winner - again.
Quote: "I saw him out of the side of my eye. Nobody can miss Buff." - Dave Bolland, on his assist on Byfuglien's winner
Win No. 12: Hawks 4, Sharks 2
The Hawks came in looking for a sweep, and they got it, but it wasn't easy - or painless. Dustin Byfuglien again scored the game-winner but the moment most will remember is Duncan Keith losing seven teeth after taking a puck to the mouth.
Quote: "That's not the one we want to win. We're after something bigger and better." - Jonathan Toews, on the Clarence Campbell Bowl awarded to West champs
Win No. 13: Hawks 6, Flyers 5
The Stanley Cup Finals returned to Chicago for the first time since 1992 as the Hawks hosted the Philadelphia Flyers. A raucous crowd at the UC got its money's worth in this one. After missing five straight playoff games, Tomas Kopecky was inserted into the lineup for the injured Andrew Ladd and capped this one with the game-winning goal.
Quote: "That's the way she goes sometimes. I think next game it'll be a lot tighter defensively." - Duncan Keith
Win No. 14: Hawks 2, Flyers 1
Game 2 of the Finals could not have been more different from the series opener. In a tight one to the end, it was Antti Niemi who was the difference. He made 29 of his 32 saves in the final two periods, including 14 in the third. Marian Hossa and Ben Eager scored 28 seconds apart late in the second.
Quote: "It's nice to have a two-game lead. We showed a lot of composure and poise and dug in tonight, but there's a reason these two teams are in the Finals. " - Patrick Sharp
Win No. 15: Hawks 7, Flyers 4
After a pair of losses on the road, the Hawks returned to the UC for Game 5 with revenge on their minds. They got it, coming out like a team possessed in the first period and jumping out to a 3-0 lead and knocking out Flyers goalie Michael Leighton in the process.
Quote: "Everybody was going, using their speed, backchecking, giving second effort. It was nice to see." - Duncan Keith
Win No. 16: Hawks 4, Flyers 3 (OT)
The Hawks' 49-year drought finally ended in Game 6 at the Wachovia Center. And the man who did it was none other than Patrick Kane. The 21-year-old scored perhaps the biggest goal in franchise history at 4:06 of the extra period when he got one past Michael Leighton from the left side. And for a few seconds there, Kane was the only one who knew the puck had crossed the line. Soon enough it was official, and Kane was mobbed by joyous teammates.
Quote: "I don't think (Kane) would have thrown his gloves off like that if he wasn't 100 percent sure. It was kind of an awkward celebration. We didn't know what to do." - Jonathan Toews