I don't want to say it was the most bizarre game-winning-goal I've seen in Stanley Cup Final overtime history. After all, I was there for Brett Hull's goal in 1999 against the Sabres, but this one was absolutely muted - the puck went in the net and came back, and everybody was like, "What happened?", and the only people that really seemed to know for sure what happened on the ice were the Chicago Blackhawks.
Let's be honest - for most of this hockey game, the Blackhawks absolutely dominated. They were by far the better team, but in the third period, as is the tendency when there is so much on the line for the Stanley Cup and you start to tighten up a little bit, they started to lay back and the Flyers started to come at them. At that point, Antti Niemi came up with save after save after save, including one that hit him right in the mask that was an absolute game-saver. This game doesn't even get to overtime if it's not for Niemi making some big saves in the third period.
There was no one happier than Marian Hossa to hoist the Stanley Cup. When you think that he was on the losing team with the Pittsburgh Penguins two years ago, and when you think he was on the losing team last year when he switched over in free agency to become a Detroit Red Wing, and then comes to Chicago and people go, "Uh oh!", it was appropriate that Toews handed the Cup off to Hossa - he was the second man on the team to get it. You could just see how absolutely thrilled and relieved he was to get that.
If Philadelphia had come back to win and, heaven forbid, Hossa had been on the ice or figured on the losing goal, the only storyline going back to Chicago for Game 7 would have been "the Hossa Curse". He played very well in this Cup final - he was one of the very best Blackhawks at times in the series, even though he was minus-3 in a 7-4 win the other day.
Long Time Coming
The Blackhawks as a franchise had not won a Stanley Cup since Eddie Litzenberger hoisted the trophy in 1961, and there have been five occasions between then and now when they were in the Cup final and they lost. Some of the most heartbreaking were in 1971 and 1973, losing to the Montreal Canadiens when Henri Richard and Jacques Lemaire scored. People in Chicago don't forget those things. The Blackhawks were so high on their chances in 1992 against the Penguins, only to get swept at Chicago Stadium. Here they are - the first time they're in the Cup final since 1992 - and they go out and win it, so the people on Rush Street are pretty thrilled about the way that jinx has ended for them.
Heads Held High
No one epitomized the resiliency of the Flyers more than the best line on the ice for them tonight - Scott Hartnell, Daniel Briere and Ville Leino. That line was terrific. Hartnell really brought it in Game 6, scoring two goals. This is a guy that went 21 games in the regular season and into the playoffs without a goal, and with the two goals he got in Game 6, he had eight in his last 14 games. Hartnell was a force every time he was on the ice and so was Briere. The Blackhawks were talking before Game 6 about how Leino was channeling Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, that he was playing at the level, and he seriously was in terms of his puck protection and his ability to make plays. The Flyers team was a lot of disparate parts that were sort of cobbled together. Peter Laviolette did an amazing job with this hockey team and that line was front and centre.