CHICAGO PULLED TO WITHIN A GAME OF ITS FIRST title since 1961 by taking advantage of a future Hall of Famer's very, very bad day. The previously sterling Pronger was on the ice for six Blackhawks goals and in the penalty box for a seventh. For one rare night the nasty Pronger morphed into Bambi.
Byfuglien finally got the better of the All-Star defenseman, scoring twice and adding two assists to equal his career high for points in a game. When asked about Byfuglien's performance, Pronger, who entered the game a +9 for the playoffs, said drily, "I guess he's well rested."
In fact, Pronger had been stymieing the entire top line, leading Quenneville to separate Byfuglien, Kane and Toews for most of Game 5. The Hawks, skating with verve, jumped to a 3-0 first-period lead. Pronger was partially beaten by Seabrook on Chicago's first goal, and on the third score he got caught backing up into a kind of no-man's land as an oncoming Kris Versteeg snapped a shot past Leighton. Between periods the Flyers' goalie was banished to the bench in favor of Boucher.
Not that Boucher fared much better. Through a sometimes frantic final two periods the teams traded goals—the Flyers getting to within two but never drawing closer—until Byfuglien's empty-netter sealed the outcome with 2:05 to play. "I think Dustin got rid of us and started performing," said Kane. "That's all he needed. He was a force."
Pronger, who also got knocked off his skates on one of Byfuglien's nine hits in the game, was later asked whether, given his poor showing, he was nursing an injury. Answered the wry, 16-year veteran, "I'm day-to-day with hurt feelings."
June 9, Wachovia Center, Philadelphia
Blackhawks 4, Flyers 3
THERE WAS NO RED LIGHT BEHIND THE GOAL, NO signal from the referees. Blackhawks players jumped jubilantly over the boards, then retreated in uncertainty. Had the Cup-winning goal really been scored? Did anyone know for sure? "I might have been the only one," Kane said after the game as he planted kisses on his parents' foreheads at center ice. "I was sure. I wanted to let the guys know it was O.K. to start the celebration."
Kane finished off the gritty Flyers at 4:06 of overtime with a low shot that slipped through Leighton's pads and lodged out of sight in the leather goal support behind the goal line. Even as Chicago players began to rejoice, the announcement came that the play was under review—as if 49 years hadn't been long enough to wait. "I didn't see it go in," said Bolland, one of the Hawks who was on the bench caught between restraint and euphoria. "I wanted to let loose, but I was watching the other guys, like, Did you see it? Are you sure? Can we do this?"