The Chicago Blackhawks are a single victory away from hoisting Lord Stanley’s Mug for the second time in the last four seasons.
On Saturday at the United Center, Chicago beat Boston 3-1 in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, taking a 3-2 series lead and giving itself two close-out opportunities in the process.
And the ‘Hawks have Patrick Kane to thank.
The former No. 1 overall pick continued his flair for the dramatic in Game 5, scoring a pair of goals — including the game-winner — in what proved to be a hard-fought, tight-checking affair.
The goal cemented Kane as one of the league’s top performers in the clutch.
His resume now includes a hat trick vs. Vancouver in a Western Conference semifinal elimination game (2009), a Stanley Cup-winning OT goal (2010) and another hat-trick in an elimination game — last round against the Kings, where Kane knocked the defending champs out of the Western Conference finals (by scoring his third and final goal in double overtime, no less.)
The bigger news, aside from Kane’s heroics, was the war of attrition catching up to both clubs.
Chicago captain Jonathan Toews and Boston forward Patrice Bergeron were both knocked out of Game 6 with undisclosed injuries. Toews is believed to have been shaken up on a Johnny Boychuk hit midway through the contest, and didn’t return to play the third period.
Bergeron is thought to have suffered some sort of internal injury — rumors swirled of a spleen issue — and was admitted to Chicago-area hospital for observation during the game.
He was discharged and traveled with the team back to Boston, though.
Bruins head coach Claude Julien said he’s optimistic Bergeron will play in Game 6, which is understandable — if the Bruins want to prevent the ‘Hawks from capturing the Cup on their home ice, they’ll definitely need No. 37’s contributions.