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Blackhawks win Stanley Cup, defeat Lightning

by Corey Masisak

CHICAGO -- When the Chicago Blackhawks celebrated Monday on the ice at United Center, their place in hockey history did not matter much to them.

The grind of another deep run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs did not matter. What may become of some members of the team did not matter.

The Blackhawks keep winning championships, and that is all that matters to them.

Chicago won the Stanley Cup for the third time in six seasons with a 2-0 victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 of the Final.

"We're going to enjoy this so much," Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane said. "We know it's going to be a short summer, but that's what we want. It's unbelievable. I don't think there's going to be much sleeping tonight."

Kane and Duncan Keith scored, and Corey Crawford made 25 saves for Chicago, who also won the NHL championship in 2010 and 2013.

It is the sixth Stanley Cup championship in Blackhawks history; they won three times in their first 82 seasons.

Chicago captain Jonathan Toews became the first player to lift the Stanley Cup at United Center, and he gave it to 40-year-old defenseman Kimmo Timonen, who missed most of this season because of a blood clot in his lung and joined the Blackhawks in late February in a trade from the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Blackhawks won the Cup at home for the first time since 1938, when they defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"It's the greatest feeling in the world," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "Once you do it once, you can't wait to do it again. It was special tonight doing it in front of our own fans. The building was electric."

Keith was a unanimous choice for the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP, becoming the ninth defenseman to win it. He averaged more than 31 minutes of ice time in 23 playoff games, and his 21 points are tied for 10th-most by a defenseman in a postseason.

"It's about time," Toews said of Keith being named MVP. "We all know he's going to go down as one of the great players to play the game. In our room, we knew that before the playoffs, but he keeps proving it time and time again. So I couldn't be happier for a guy like that. It's really incredible."

Keith scored with 2:47 remaining in the second period to give the Blackhawks the lead. Kane collected a pass along the right wall and crossed into the Lightning zone before stopping and waiting for help. He slipped a pass through two defenders to Keith in the middle of the ice. Tampa Bay goaltender Ben Bishop stopped Keith's first shot, but he went around Lightning center Cedric Paquette and put the rebound off Bishop into the net for his third goal of the playoffs.

"Right from the first [playoff] game against Nashville, I saw a different level of hockey [from Duncan] that I'm not sure I've ever seen on my team," Blackhawks forward Brad Richards said. "Just how he kept doing it and never showed any signs of fatigue. He's probably the best player I've ever seen live. It was unbelievable what he did out there."

Kane scored his first goal of the Final to make it 2-0 with 5:14 remaining in the third period. Brandon Saad carried the puck into the offensive zone and left a drop pass for Richards. Richards, who won the Conn Smythe in 2004 with the Lightning, fed Kane, who was playoff MVP in 2013, with a pass for a one-timer and the first two-goal lead in almost 355 minutes of play in the series.

Kane fractured his clavicle Feb. 24, and the initial diagnosis was 8-12 weeks of recovery, which would have left him out for the first two rounds of the playoffs. Instead, he returned after seven weeks and tied Lightning forward Tyler Johnson for the postseason scoring lead with 23 points.

"I felt so good and I knew I had to step up," Kane said. "So many guys on our team had already done that during the series, so I knew I had to do something. It was great to come in and produce. My linemates made great plays, [Keith] made a great play on his goal. We got great goaltending. Just a complete team effort."

Crawford, replaced in net for three games during the Western Conference First Round, allowed two goals in the final three games to the highest-scoring team in the NHL during the regular season.

Bishop made 30 saves for the Lightning. He missed the end of Game 2 and all of Game 4, and revealed after Game 6 he was playing with a torn right groin muscle.

"It's kind of hard to talk about it now," Bishop said. "You think about how long the season has been, how close we were. It feels like every game of the series could have gone one way or another. It's just a terrible feeling. I don't know how to describe it. Listening to that [celebration on the ice while in the dressing room], it just makes you sick."

Johnson, who led the playoffs with 13 goals, said after the game he played much of the Cup Final with a broken wrist, which explained why he took very few faceoffs late in the series.

Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos did not score in the series despite several great chances. He had a sure goal go off the shaft of a defenseman's stick, put a shot off the crossbar in Game 6, and had a breakaway denied by Crawford.

"I obviously feel like I didn't produce here," Stamkos said. "I don't know what could have happened if I get a few in this series, so it is really tough to think of any positives right now.

"I don't think a lot of people thought we would get this far. We came together at the right time. Words can't even describe how hard it is to get to this stage. You need so many things, and that is why it is so impressive to see those guys over there and the things they have done in the last six years."

It is the first Stanley Cup for Timonen, NHL Trade Deadline additions Antoine Vermette and Andrew Desjardins, and rookies Teuvo Teravainen and Trevor van Riemsdyk.

Timonen hinted on multiple occasions during this run he would retire after this season.

"I was dreaming about this moment for a long time, and it's right here," Timonen said. "This game has given me so much, and I'm relieved, happy, ready to leave this game, and I'm leaving this game as a Stanley Cup champion."

It is the third championship for eight Blackhawks players, and for Quenneville. Toews, Kane, Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Bryan Bickell were drafted by the Blackhawks, Patrick Sharp joined in a trade in 2003, and Marian Hossa signed as a free agent in 2009.

Each has been an integral member of the closest thing the NHL has seen to a modern dynasty.

"You're almost thinking about, when's the next game?" Hjalmarsson said. "You've [always] got to be prepared for next game, but the season is over, and you're a champion."

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