Been there, lost that: After years of falling short, Timonen relishes chance to win it all

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CHICAGO — If you can think of a big hockey game, Kimmo Timonen has probably lost it.

In three gold medal games at the World Hockey Championships, he’s left with three silver medals. Same thing at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, and the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin.

Five years ago, he lost his first trip to the Stanley Cup Final. No runner-up medal there.

But now — at age 40, and with retirement looming — Chicago’s veteran Finnish blueliner is eagerly anticipating one final chance to be crowned a champion.

“I’ve been in every final there is in the hockey world, but I haven’t won anything,” Timonen said on Monday, prior to tonight’s Game 6 at the United Center. “I’ve always been on the losing part of this side of the story.”

As the ‘Hawks look to hoist their third Cup in the last six years — old hat, for some — Timonen’s quest for that elusive title has become a feel-good story. He’s played a small role for Chicago, less than 11 combined minutes in Games 4 and 5, but can take pride in the fact that after sitting the first three games, his reintroduction has coincided with two straight wins.

Playing in the Stanley Cup Final also ensures his name will be engraved on the Lord Stanley’s mug (should the ‘Hawks win it, obviously). Had Timonen sat for the entire series, the club would’ve had to lobby to get him on there.

“I’m part of the team, not as big a part as I used to be, but I’m still there,” he said. “Whatever ice time I get I take it and try to do as good as I can.”

The toughest part now, even for someone with his experience, is not looking too far ahead. Yes, Timonen’s just one win away from the Cup, but closing the deal is tough. Just ask the 2011 Vancouver Canucks. Or the 2004 Calgary Flames, who blew a 3-2 series lead to Tampa Bay — a narrative that’s getting heavy play as the Bolts look to duplicate history 11 years later.

“It is hard not to let your mind wander what will happen,” Timonen explained. “But it was actually really easy to me last night. I’ve been in a lot of finals and I’ve been on a lot of losing side of stories.

“I just try to focus on tonight, and make sure I’m ready.”