CHICAGO — The Chicago Blackhawks captured their third Stanley Cup in six seasons with a 2-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday.
Breaking down the Blackhawks’ victory — the only decision by more than one goal in the Final — that allowed them to claim the Cup on home ice for the first time since 1938.
What happened: Defenseman Duncan Keith, the unanimous winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP, broke a scoreless tie with 2:47 left in the second period to cap a terrific play that sent a season-high United Center crowd of 22,424 into a roar.
Keith, who averaged 31:06 minutes of ice time per game during the playoffs, dashed across the Tampa Bay blue line at full speed and took a pass from Patrick Kane off the right boards.
Ben Bishop stopped Keith’s initial drive from high in the slot, but Keith, one of the NHL’s best skating D-men, never stopped. He danced around Cedric Paquette, drove to the net and fired the rebound over Bishop’s glove.
“It was by far our hardest series,” Keith said. “You saw how close the games were every time. A few games obviously could have gone both ways, but we found a way.”
Keith, who joined the Blackhawks in 2005, is one of seven players who have been on each of Chicago’s last three championship teams.
“It feels so good, you want to be part of these things,” Keith said. “You don’t get these awards if you’re not on great teams with great players.”
Chicago’s Corey Crawford made 25 stops in the shutout.
Set up by Brad Richards, Kane iced it with his first goal of the Final, connecting from the right circle with 5:14 left.
“It doesn’t get any better,” Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said. “It’s surreal every time.”
This was another tense, impossibly close game in a series where the first five contests were decided by one goal for just the second time in NHL history. Game 6 seemed destined to be decided by strange or lucky bounce, or maybe a clutch play.
That wasn’t due to a lack of scoring chances — both teams had dynamite chances early. Crawford was just a bit better — or luckier —than Bishop.
Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos, who had just one assist in the Final, fired a shot over Crawford’s glove and off the crossbar early in the first. When the Lightning came on early in the second, Crawford stopped Stamkos on a clean breakaway about a minute in with a left pad save.
In the first, Bishop made point-black right pads stops on Teuvo Teravainen and Toews, who had two cracks to score from the edge of the crease following a set-up by Kane.
A new silver age: One of NHL’s “Original Six” franchises, the Blackhawks entered the league in 1926. In their first 83 seasons, they won the Cup just three times — in 1934, 1938 and 1961. Now with three championships in six years — 2010, 2013 and 2015 — the Blackhawks are the closest thing to an NHL dynasty since Detroit won the Cup in 1997, 1998 and 2002.
Triplets Re-united: Tampa Bay right wing Nikita Kucherov rejoined the “Triplets” line with center Tyler Johnson, who entered the game leading postseason scorers, and left wing Ondrej Palat. Kucherov, who turns 22 on Wednesday, had a good jump and narowly missed on an early chance.
The speedy Russian entered the game the then second-leading scorer in the playoffs with 22 points. He was hurt early in the first period of Chicago’s 2-1 win at Tampa on Saturday when he crashed into the post.
Closing it under Quenneville: The Blackhawks are now a combined 18-1 in Games 5, 6 and 7 in playoff series under coach Joel Quenneville. The only loss was in overtime of Game 7 of the Western Conference Final to Los Angeles in 2014.
Lightning streak: Tampa Bay skated in its 26th game of the playoffs, tying the mark for most games for a team in the postseason.
Home sweet home: Chicago has won 28 of its last 34 playoff games at the United Center.
Misfiring stars: Stamkos, who had a team-high 43 goals during the regular season, had just one assist in the series. He hadn’t scored since Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final against the New York Rangers.
“It’s tough to put that in words right now, how frustrating it was to have those good chances and have them not go in a game we knew was going to be a tight game,” Stamkos said.
Kane hadn’t scored since May 27 in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final versus Anaheim.
Goalie drama: Bishop, who won a total of 53 games in the regular season and playoffs appeared to labor when moving. After the game, Bishop dislosed he had a right groin tear, which caused him to leave Game 2 and sit out Game 4.
What the Blackhawks did well: Win faceoffs, again. Chicago won 42 and lost just 20 on Monday. In the first five games, the Blackhawks won 175 draws to 123 for Tampa Bay.
After getting the lead, Chicago played smart and almost impeccably. Crawford was sharp when the Lightning did get a chance.
“I think we got better and better definitely as the series went along and we capped it off it a heckuva an effort tonight,” Toews said.
What the Lightning did well: Battle in front of Bishop, whose injury was apparent.
PHOTOS: Best of the Stanley Cup Final
Game 6: Chicago Blackhawks players celebrate after defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning at United Center.