Hawks win first title in 49 years in bizarre finish to Game 6

Hockey fans in the great city of Chicago had to wait 49 years to experience the moment again, but on Wednesday night it finally happened.

In a thrilling, yet completely bizarre finish to the title series, the Blackhawks hoisted the Stanley Cup with their 4-3 victory over the Flyers in overtime. Patrick Kane scored the game-winning goal 4:06 into OT, but nobody outside of him knew that the puck had slipped past Philly goalie Michael Leighton because the net indicator never went off. The announcers didn’t even know that the puck had got passed Leighton until they saw Kane skating down the ice with his arms up in the air and the rest of his teammates clear the bench to greet him at the other end.

In all honesty, the moment killed the excitement that had been building for over three periods. Chicago fans obviously don’t care how it ended because the Hawks won, but for casual fans, it was undoubtedly a lackluster finish. (Or at least, a lackluster finish for a game-winning, series-clinching overtime goal.) It was strange to watch the Hawks celebrate while the Flyers stood on the ice waiting for the referees to make an official announcement about whether or not the goal had counted.

Regardless, it was a thrilling moment for the Hawks and their fans. With four minutes remaining in the third period, it looked as though Chicago would win in regulation but then Scott Hartnell beat Antti Niemi to eventually force overtime. Of course, without Niemi, both teams would be heading back to Chicago for a Game 7 right now. He made a couple of key saves late in the game to keep the Hawks afloat. In fact, he saved a point-blank shot by Jeff Carter with less than two minutes to play in regulation, right in front of the Hawks’ net.

All in all, this was a great moment for hockey and for Chicago fans, who are extremely loyal and who cherish titles. It was an exciting series and the NHL can’t be upset about how this one turned out.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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NHL playoffs: Let’s get this party started!

There’s nothing that sounds quite like an NHL playoff game, except for maybe standing on the tarmac during a plane’s takeoff. The noise is constant from the pre-game skate to the final seconds on the clock. For the players and coaches, springtime means the start of the annual gauntlet run to the Stanley Cup.

This year, the Western Conference could provide more surprises in the early rounds than its Eastern counterpart. I have highlighted three series to keep an eye on for the first round.

Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens
An original six matchup — old Adams Division rivals will meet for the fourth time in the last seven postseasons. The Habs have won 24 of 31 all-time playoff series between the two teams, including the last three encounters (’02, ’04, ‘08). The key for the Canadiens is having a healthy D Andrei Markov back in the lineup. He led the team in scoring and was a key component at the point position on the power play. But they have sputtered since Markov went down with a lower-body injury on April 4th. The Big Bad Bruins have bullied the Canadiens in all six regular season contests, but they must refrain from taking stupid penalties. F Milan Lucic must control his emotions and play with his head on straight, as the referees will be watching him closely. What a banner season for the Bruins, as they had their best win total (53) since 1971-72 regular season en route to becoming the number one-seed in the Eastern Conference.

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