"It's unbelievable man," Crawford said. "So much hard work to get to this point. Great effort by everyone on the team."
The Blackhawks opened the season on a 21-0-3 streak and coasted to the Presidents' Trophy that goes to the team with the best regular-season record. But regular-season excellence has not translated into playoff success: Chicago is the first team with the best record to win the Cup since the 2008 Detroit Red Wings.
The Blackhawks went through Minnesota in five games and Detroit in seven, rallying in the Western Conference semifinals from a 3-1 deficit and winning Game 7 in overtime. They got through the defending NHL champion Los Angeles Kings in five games to return to the Cup finals, where Boston was waiting.
The Blackhawks won the first game at home in three overtimes but dropped Game 2 — another overtime — and fell behind 2-1 in the series when it returned to Boston.
But since then, it's been all Chicago.
The tightly contested finals — with three games going a total of five overtimes — may help fans forget the lockout that shortened the season to 48 games and pushed back the opener to Jan. 19. That left the teams still playing ice hockey on a 95-degree day in Boston on June 24, matching the latest date in NHL history.
Fans in their Bruins sweaters filtered into the air conditioned TD Garden to see the last game in Boston for the year with the hope there would be one more in Chicago: a seventh game just like two years ago, when the Bruins rallied from a 3-2 deficit, then won in Vancouver for their first NHL championship since 1972.
Both teams were bolstered by the return of star forwards, Selke Trophy winner Toews of Chicago and Patrice Bergeron, who was a finalist for the award given to the top defensive forward in the league. Both returned after missing the end of Game 5, and but only Toews showed up in the box score.