BOSTON -- Chicago Blackhawks center Dave Bolland scored the goal of his childhood dreams Monday night. It delivered him -- and the Blackhawks -- the Stanley Cup.
Bolland's goal with 58.3 seconds remaining in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final allowed the Blackhawks to complete a historic comeback and take a 3-2 decision against the stunned Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Chicago's Bryan Bickell had tied the game 17 seconds earlier with an extra-attacker goal.
"When don't you dream about it?" Bolland asked rhetorically. "We all dream about scoring that Stanley Cup winner."
Bolland had run through this exact moment in his mind as a kid playing hockey back home in Etobicoke, Ontario. He played on the street, on ponds, at Mimico Arena and other buildings across the Southern Ontario region -- and every once in a while he would dream about scoring the Stanley Cup-clinching goal in front of thousands of people.
"Check that one off the bucket list," Bolland said.
Boston left wing Milan Lucic had scored the go-ahead goal with 7:49 remaining in the third, but Bickell scored the tying goal off a one-timer from the slot with 1:16 to play. Less than 18 seconds later, Bolland cashed in from the left post before tossing his gloves in a wild celebration although there was still almost a minute to play.
"I've seen [comebacks like this] happen in soccer, in the [UEFA] Champions League, but not in hockey," Blackhawks center Michal Handzus said. "Especially at this big stage, Game 6, elimination game, being in the road building and to score two goals in the last minute to win the Cup. Wow, that's incredible."
After becoming the first team in NHL history to earn at least one point in its first 24 regular-season games, Chicago is now the first team in the salary-cap era to win the Stanley Cup twice. The Blackhawks are also the first team since the 1991 Pittsburgh Penguins to win the Cup in six games when they trailed 2-1 after Game 3.
Prior to 2010, when the Blackhawks beat the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 6 to win the Stanley Cup, the last time Chicago celebrated as hockey's championship city was in 1961, when legends Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull were A-list celebrities around town. Now they're ambassadors for a team that could be developing into a modern-day dynasty.
"It's the greatest feeling in the world," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "Once you win one, you can't wait to do it again, but it's a hard road. We had some great hurdles, some great ups and downs here, but what a finish. I'm so happy for the guys."
For a while it looked like Lucic's goal, a shot from the slot off a behind-the-net feed from David Krejci, would hold up -- especially after Chicago had a power-play opportunity that yielded nothing and ended with less than four minutes to play.
But the Blackhawks pushed and pinched. They got the puck deep and won the battles for it. They outworked the Bruins and that work paid dividends when Jonathan Toews fired a pass from the left corner to set up Bickell for a one-timer from the slot that he'll never forget. Bickell blasted it through Boston goalie Tuukka Rask's five hole, setting off a celebration in the corner that was filled with as much excitement as relief.
"Good things happen when you go to the net," Bickell said, repeating a line the Blackhawks have been saying since Game 4. "Cloud 9 right now."
Another 76 seconds of scoreless hockey would have sent these teams to overtime for the fourth time in this best-of-7 series. The Blackhawks had other ideas.
"We knew we were going to win it [after Bickell scored]," Bolland said. "I don't know about regulation, but we knew we were going to win it."
Bolland made sure of it, scoring from the left post after Johnny Oduya's shot from the left point clanked off that post.
"You don't predict that, but we'll take it," said Toews, whose goal in the second period tied the game 1-1. "It's a pretty exciting way to finish and to turn it around so quick, it's amazing."
The Bruins couldn't believe it. They thought they had Game 6 won -- much in the same way the Toronto Maple Leafs thought they had won Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals on May 13. Boston made the impossible become possible that night inside TD Garden, coming back from three goals down in the final 10 minutes to win in overtime.
They experienced the other side of that experience Monday night.
"It's terrible," Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk said. "It's the total opposite of what happened with Toronto. We're up one and ready go to Game 7. Then, all of the sudden, it's over."
Boychuk later admitted he was feeling "total shock."
They were feeling the same thing on the Chicago side. Some of the Blackhawks were even mentally preparing to go back to Chicago without the Cup to play a Game 7 at United Center on Wednesday.
"I was getting ready for Game 7, I can tell you that much," defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said. "Oh for sure, I thought it was going to be tough to get one goal and we got two. That was huge."
Toews said he was trying to fight off the emotional low as the scoreboard clock kept ticking with the Bruins leading 2-1.
"The thought does cross your mind and it's a tough thing to fight," he said. "It's not a good feeling, but we found a way."
Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook said he didn't even know Bolland's shot went into the net because he was on the ice when Bickell scored and was trying to catch his breath, thinking maybe he'd get another shift before what seemed like an inevitable overtime.
"You never say die," Seabrook said. "Things can change just that quickly."
History changed in less than 18 seconds Monday night. Dreams became reality.
"Amazing ending to an amazing year," Quenneville said.