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Kane OT goal breaks Hawks' Stanley Cup drought

by Dan Rosen
PHILADELPHIA -- Jonathan Toews zig-zagged through the crowd, long after the trophy presentation, his eyes turning every which way. Still on skates and in full gear -- minus his gloves, helmet and stick -- Toews was trying his best to see through all the screens like Antti Niemi did Wednesday night.
"There it is," he said, pointing diagonally to his right as he looked behind him.
Yes, there it was, the Chicago Blackhawks' Stanley Cup, won with a 4-3 victory on Patrick Kane's overtime goal 4:06 into the extra session of Game 6 Wednesday at Wachovia Center. 

Toews, enamored with gold only 3 1/2 months ago, fixated on the glistening silver as he weaved through a crowd of media and family members who were walking over the previously fresh sheet of Wachovia Center ice. Ben Eager, who was having his own private moment with his family and the Cup, handed it to "Captain Serious."
He lifted it over his head, pasted a big smile on his face and told his family to follow him while the Cup -- all 35 pounds and 36 inches of it -- was being held so high that everybody, including the few thousand Blackhawks fans left in the building, could see it.
Thanks to Kane's surprising goal, Antti Niemi's resiliency and an overall group effort to recover when the weight of the hockey world felt like it was crashing down on them, the Blackhawks all got to lift the Stanley Cup over their heads and celebrate with their families.
Not since 1961 has Chicago raised the Cup. The city will have its parade Friday and the team will have a summer to savor its championship.
"The party in Chicago is going to be all-world," coach Joel Quenneville said after Kane got the OT-winner and Niemi made 21 saves. "It's been a long time."
Game 7 looked like a distinct possibility when Flyers wing Scott Hartnell forced overtime with 3:59 to play in regulation, but Kane scored a goal only he knew actually went into the net early in the extra period.
He deked and dangled around Kimmo Timonen, taking the puck into the lower portion of the left circle before throwing it on net. Kane immediately threw his arms up to celebrate as he rimmed his body around the corner boards, but there was no red light.
The Flyers were stunned. They had no idea what was happening.
"I didn't see the goal," coach Peter Laviolette said. "It came in off the angle. I saw one of their players skate across the ice like he had won something. I got a little pit in my stomach. But I didn't know it went in. I haven't seen it."
That player that streaked across Laviolette's field of vision could have been any number of Blackhawks.
Patrick Sharp, Nick Boynton, Andrew Ladd and Brian Campbell trailed as No. 88 raced down to jump on Niemi. As Kane whizzed past the Hawks' bench, one by one they all started pouring over the boards.
Still, it wasn't totally defined.
Was it a goal?
Toews stared back at the officials as he was hugging teammates. Sharp did the same. So did Brent Sopel and John Madden.
Could the Hawks really celebrate?
Video replays showed the puck went into the right side of the net, going through Flyers goalie Michael Leighton (37 saves) and tickling the twine enough for it to flutter as if a gust of wind had just blown through Wachovia Center.
After a short video review, it was ruled a goal -- and the celebration was back on.
"One guy went over the bench and all of a sudden it was just a waterfall," Troy Brouwer said. "I don't think any of us actually knew it went it. We just followed the flow. Kaner started celebrating so we figured it must have gone in."
Toews, who finished the playoffs with 29 points in 22 games, was first handed the Conn Smythe Trophy from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. Next came the Cup, making the Blackhawks' captain an Olympic champion, Stanley Cup champion and Conn Smythe winner all within less than four months.
He's also the youngest player (22 years old) to become a member of the Triple Gold Club (Olympic gold, Stanley Cup, World Championship).
"This tops everything, for sure," said Toews, who assisted on Dustin Byfuglien's power-play goal 16:49 into the first period that gave the Hawks a 1-0 lead. "We're brothers in that locker room and we pull for each other, and that's what makes this so special."
Toews handed the Cup to Marian Hossa, this year's feel-good story of the Cup Final.
"Very apropos," Quenneville said.
Hossa's military press with the Cup was three years in the making -- he lost in the Final in each of the last two seasons. Hossa said he thought about his family and how hard his road to this moment has been when he had trophy over his head.
"When we got to the Final again, I was so happy to be in the Final but at the same time it was scary," Hossa said. "I'm so glad. I won it. I got the Stanley Cup. What a feeling. Wow. This is unbelievable."
It was a feeling made only more unbelievable by a see-saw game of goals and emotions.
Chicago grabbed the 1-0 lead, but a dominating first period (17-7 advantage in shots on goal) was ruined with a late penalty and ensuing power-play goal from Scott Hartnell 27 seconds before the first intermission.
Eight minutes into the second period, Danny Briere made it 2-1 Flyers.
But Sharp and Andrew Ladd scored before intermission to make 3-2 Hawks. Chicago was now 20 minutes away from winning the Stanley Cup, and for 16 minutes it looked like Ladd's goal (17:43 into the second) was going to stand up as the winner.
But all it takes is one bounce for everything to change.
With 3:59 to play in regulation, Hartnell directed the puck into the net after Ville Leino's pass banked off Hossa in the slot. Tied 3-3, the record-setting crowd of 20,307, the most fans to ever see a NHL game in Pennsylvania, roared as the Hawks sagged.
"We had the lead the whole time and when you're sitting on a lead like that something bad is going to happen," Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith said. "Give Philadelphia credit, but we were calm and composed in the room after the third period."
Keith said the Hawks talked about who would become the hero.
"Sure enough, it's little Kaner," Keith added. "He's scored big goals for us all year."
He may not score a bigger one in his lifetime.
"I knew it was in right away," Kane said. "I just tried to take off and book it to the other end and try to sell the celebration. It was crazy. It's unbelievable to be a part of this."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

Shift of the game: After surviving an early storm in overtime, the Hawks turned the tide on the Flyers. Patrick Kane somehow slithered a shot from the lower left circle through Michael Leighton and into the net to win the Stanley Cup 4:10 into overtime.

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