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Perhaps the Bruins expected it to go to overtime, as three of the first four games in the series did. They seemed to be caught off-guard on the ensuing faceoff.
Chicago skated into the zone and Johnny Oduya sent a shot on net that deflected off Michael Frolik and the post before landing right in front of Bolland.
He chipped it in, and the Blackhawks knew it was over.
The Chicago players who’d been on the ice gathered in the corner, while those on the bench began jumping up and down. It was only a minute later, with Boston’s Tuukka Rask off for an extra man, that the Blackhawks withstood the final push and swarmed over the boards, throwing their sticks and gloves across the ice.
"I don’t think there’s any question, even though — let’s face it — today was a little bit of luck, we’re still the best team in the league," Oduya said. "We proved that during the year, and we proved that during the playoffs. Lot of things have to break right for you, they did tonight, but sometimes the great teams make their own breaks."
The Bruins got 28 saves from Rask, who was hoping to contribute to an NHL title after serving as Tim Thomas’ backup when Boston won it all two years ago.
"It’s obviously shocking when you think you have everything under control," Rask said quietly, standing at his locker with a blue baseball cap on backward and a towel draped over his shoulders.
The sold-out TD Garden was chanting "We want the Cup!" after Milan Lucic’s goal put the Bruins up 2-1 with eight minutes left, but it fell silent when Boston coughed up the lead. The team came out to salute its fans as they streamed out of the building for the last time, from the air conditioning into the summer air.
"Probably toughest for sure, when you know you’re a little bit over a minute left and you feel that you’ve got a chance to get to a Game 7," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "And then those two goals go in quickly."
The arena was almost empty — except for a few hundred fans in red Blackhawks sweaters who filtered down to the front rows — when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman handed the 35-pound Cup to Toews, who left Game 5 with an undisclosed injury and wasn’t confirmed for the lineup until the morning skate.
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