What just happened?
With 59 seconds left in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, that’s all anybody could ask.
Dave Bolland had just scored what would prove to be the Cup-winning goal.
And 17 seconds earlier, Bryan Bickell had equalized with his goalie on the bench.
Really…what just happened?
It marked one of the most impossible, improbable and incredible comebacks in Stanley Cup Final history. When the dust settled, the Blackhawks had erased a 2-1 deficit — at TD Garden, no less — and flat-out stunned the Bruins.
For confirmation, ask Tuukka Rask.
“It’s shocking,” the Bruins goalie said after the game. “Sometimes momentum builds, and that’s what happened.”
The Blackhawks became the first club to win a Stanley Cup-clinching game in regulation time by overcoming a one-goal deficit in the final two
The Finnish netminder was then asked if there was a sense of disbelief regarding what transpired.
“Yeah, we’ve done it to somebody else,” he explained, alluding to Boston’s improbable Game 7 comeback against Toronto. “We know how it feels to be on the other side.”
It’s hard to contextualize how rare this was. Famous comebacks often occur when teams trail in games — like Toronto rallying from three games down to win the 1942 Stanley Cup Final.
Within a game, though, such dramatic rallies are far and few between.
They also rarely happen so late.
According to NHL.com, Bolland’s game-winner was the latest in regulation that the Cup-winning goal had ever been scored.
Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg was the last player to score a Cup-winning tally in the third period (7:36 mark, Game 6, 2008 Cup Final) and Calgary’s Doug Gilmour was the last to score one with less than 10 minutes remaining (11:02 mark, 1989 Cup Final).
(Before Bolland, the latest Cup-winning goal scored in regulation was by Boston’s Bill Carson in 1929 — 18:02, 3rd period.)
Thing is, this comeback wasn’t just about Bolland’s goal.
Bickell’s game-tying marker was equally dramatic, coming with Corey Crawford off for an extra attacker and the ‘Hawks 76 seconds away from going back to Chicago for Game 7.
Even the scorer himself couldn’t believe it.
“It was crazy,” Bickell said following the game. “Two minutes left, being down 2-1 — it was a roller coaster.”
Here’s more, from the NHL’s public relations department:
The Blackhawks are just the third club in NHL history to win a Stanley Cup-clinching game it had trailed in the final five minutes of regulation and the first to do so in regulation time.
In 1944, Montreal scored twice in the final five minutes of regulation to force overtime and defeated Chicago 5-4 at 9:12 of extra time on a goal by Toe Blake (Game 4). In 1951, Toronto scored at 19:28 to tie Montreal 2-2 before Bill Barilko’s Cup-winning tally at 2:53 of overtime (Game 5).
In the end, the roller coaster finished with Bolland, an improbable hero if there ever was one.
His had been a playoff to forget — missing the first round against Minnesota with an injury, a 12-game goalless slump — but he came up huge in the biggest moment, echoing a mentality shared throughout the Chicago lineup.
“We never give up as a team,” Bolland explained. “We die hard.”