Chicago is home to a Stanley Cup Champion once again. A strong 2-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday gave the Chicago Blackhawks their third championship in the last six years.
Defenseman Duncan Keith, who scored the Blackhawks' first goal, was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the best player in the playoffs.
For the second time in as many games, the Blackhawks controlled the pace of play early on but failed to take advantage. Chicago outshot the Lightning 13-4, but Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop turned every chance aside. Tampa Bay didn't do themselves any favors, reaching the penalty box twice to tempt Chicago's power play.
But the Blackhawks couldn't find a dent in Bishop's armor until the final minutes of the second period. Duncan Keith waded into the offensive zone and let a slap shot fly before swooping in and shooting the rebound past Bishop for Chicago's first lead of the game. It was Keith's third goal and 20th point of the playoffs.
Bishop's struggles would continue in the third period when a couple of shaky plays left the Blackhawks chances to extend the lead. At the other end, Tampa Bay's offense was held in check for most of the game. The Lightning never managed to reach double-digits in shots in any period until late in the third. This inability to breach Chicago's defenses was ultimately their undoing -- the Lightning's late surge fell short and the Blackhawks won their third Stanley Cup in the last six years.
3 things we learned
1. Duncan Keith deserves the Conn Smythe
The epitome of a playoff workhorse, Keith's contributions to the Blackhawks' success this spring speak for themselves. He's logged incredible minutes each night (sometimes well over 30 a game) and became just the 11th defenseman in NHL history to register more than 20 points in a postseason. His goal midway through Game 6 was a turning point and a fantastic personal effort.
2. The most curious Cup Final in recent memory continued
The running theme of this series had been the penchant for the dominant team to somehow be unable to score. That held true for the first half of Game 6 -- the Blackhawks outshot the Lightning 13-4 early, conquered the faceoff circle and commanded the pace of play without a goal to show for it. That's been the beauty of this series; as strong as either team plays, the game never gets out of reach and the result is a thrilling game of hockey.
3. Chicago put on a defensive clinic
At times in this series, the Lightning have shown the ability to completely hound the Blackhawks with a suppressive forecheck. The opposite was true in most of Game 6; every trip Tampa Bay made into the offensive zone was quickly quashed and ejected back out. Chicago's defenders were prescient, quick and stifling. Tampa Bay fought an uphill battle it would not win.