Chicago Blackhawks' Last-Minute Heroics Put Exclamation Point on Historic Season

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistJune 25, 2013

The Chicago Blackhawks saved their best achievement for last in their record-setting 2013 NHL season.

Potentially facing a decisive Game 7 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final, the Blackhawks scored two goals in 17 seconds late in the third period to earn the 3-2 win and their second championship in four years.

Bryan Bickell scored the tying goal when he took a feathery pass from Jonathan Toews in front of Tuukka Rask with 1:16 left in regulation. Rask got tangled up with Zdeno Chara, and Bickell quickly sent the puck to the back of the net.

Just 17 seconds later, Dave Bolland scored the series winner. Johnny Oduya took a shot from the left point, and Michael Frolik tipped it as it went toward the net. Bolland got inside position on Johnny Boychuk, and when the puck came close, he made no mistake about it.

"How can you call that?" Toews said to NBC's Pierre McGuire after the game. "We knew we needed just one bounce there. You never know what can happen, so you don't stop playing till the end. This is a nice finish, not having to go back [for Game 7] to Chicago."

The ending was brutal for the Bruins, who had a remarkable comeback in their opening-round seven-game triumph over the Toronto Maple Leafs to even advance out of the first round. 

The Blackhawks trailed 1-0 after one period, but the margin would have been greater if it had not been for goalie Corey Crawford. Chicago fell behind once more with 7:49 remaining Monday night after Milan Lucic banged home the tie-breaking goal. 

The game was reminiscent of the Bruins' triumph in Game 2. Chicago had out-skated Boston in the early going, but the deficit was only one goal after the first. The Bruins came back to win that game in overtime.

Patrick Kane did not score for the Blackhawks, but he won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP. He had four points in his previous two games.

Kane credited Toews and Bickell for helping him score nine postseason goals, including the two opening goals in Game 5.

"This is something that will mean more in the future," Kane told reporters after the game. "But it could have been given to Corey (Crawford) or a lot of other guys. The important thing is winning tonight and winning another championship.

"I'm so lucky to have linemates like Johnny (Oduya) and Bicksy, who work so hard and get me so many opportunities."

In the conference semifinals, the Blackhawks could have easily been sent home early by the Detroit Red Wings. They trailed 3-1 in the series, but after winning on home ice in Game 5, they went to Detroit and recorded a comeback win after trailing going into the third period.

In overtime in Game 7, Brent Seabrook scored the winnersomething he would also do in Game 4 of the final against the Bruins.

The Blackhawks started the regular season in Los Angeles and beat the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings 5-2, lighting the fuse for a brilliant start.

They would not lose a game in regulation through the first half of the truncated season, going 21-0-3 in the first 24 games and setting a record for the longest point streak to start the season.

"It was one of those seasons," head coach Joel Quenneville said in his postgame press conference. "We're almost charmed the way we started the season and the way we ended. A lot of great things in between, some great challenges in this playoff series, and the other three."

The Blackhawks' achievements were plentiful and meaningful. Record points streak at the start of the season. Presidents' Trophy. Postseason comeback against the rival Red Wings. Elimination of the defending champions. Stanley Cup celebration on the Bruins' home ice.

It happened because of a season-long commitment by a roster of talented players and a remarkable comeback by a team that refused to quit.

Steve Silverman is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise notified, all quotes were obtained firsthand.