Sweet home Chicago: Blackhawks are your 2015 Stanley Cup champions

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CHICAGO — They’ve done it again.

But this time, they did it at home.

For the third time in the last six years — and for the first time in Chicago since 1938 — the Blackhawks ascended to the top of the NHL, beating Tampa Bay 2-0 on Monday night in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, winning the series four games to two.

Tonight’s game was, like every game this series, a thrilling affair with little separating the two teams. While the final didn’t go the full seven games and failed to feature a single overtime, the Bolts and ‘Hawks combined for one of the most tightly-contested championship series the NHL’s seen in a long time.

Perhaps that’s why it took a special play from a special player to decide it.

Duncan Keith, the Conn Smythe winner as playoff MVP, scored the winning goal late in the second period on a terrific solo effort, picking up his own rebound before firing past Ben Bishop. That Keith scored the winner was fitting and cemented himself in Blackhawk lore; with the goal, he became the first ‘Hawk to score a cup-winning tally at home since Carl Voss beat the Maple Leafs at the old Chicago Stadium 77 years ago.

Keith wasn’t the only hero on the night, however.

Corey Crawford, outstanding in the latter half of this series, stopped all 23 shots faced for his first-ever Stanley Cup Final shutout. Over the final three games, the two-time Cup-winning ‘tender allowed just two goals, finishing with a sparkling .975 save percentage.

But there’s another side to Crawford’s heroics.

For as good as he was, the Bolts will have their regrets about failing to beat him. The NHL’s highest-scoring team during the regular season struggled to generate offense as the series progressed, and were shut out in tonight’s elimination contest — the first time they’ve been blanked in 19 games.

And it’s not like the Lightning were without their chances. Captain Steve Stamkos, who’ll undoubtedly face criticism after failing to score in the series, hit the crossbar in the first period and had a breakaway spectacularly saved by Crawford in the second.

As for the ‘Hawks, tonight’s win officially cemented them as the closest thing we’ve seen to a dynasty in the salary cap era. Sure, the group is going look different moving forward, and some familiar faces will say goodbye, but this collection of players has left an unforgettable mark on the city.

And that’s something that’ll never change.

Notes

Patrick Kane finally snapped his scoring slump in the third period, notching his first goal of the series on a nice Brad Richards pass… Keith became the fourth player to log over 700 minutes in a single postseason (since the NHL began tracking in ’98), joining Nicklas Lidstrom, Drew Doughty and Chris Pronger… Keith also matched Chicago’s franchise record for most points by a d-man in a single season, drawing even with Chris Chelios (21 pts, 1992)… The ‘Hawks continued their impressive run of protecting leads tonight — a perfect 33-0-0 when leading after two periods this year, including a 8-0 mark in the playoffs… Ben Bishop finished with 30 saves on 32 shots.

Senators goaltender Cam Talbot out 5-7 weeks with injury

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OTTAWA, Ontario — Ottawa Senators goaltender Cam Talbot is expected to be out five to seven weeks with what the team called an upper-body injury.

The Senators initially called Talbot day to day with what they hoped was a minor injury. Instead he’s now expected to miss at least the first month of the NHL season.

Ottawa claimed goalie Magnus Hellberg off waivers from the Seattle Kraken upon announcing Talbot’s expected absence. Hellberg, who played for Sweden at the Beijing Olympics could split time with countryman Anton Forsberg while Talbot is out.

The Senators acquired Talbot from Minnesota during the offseason to make him their starter after the Wild opted against bringing him back along with Marc-Andre Fleury. Talbot, 35, had a 2.76 goals-against average and .911 save percentage this season.

Losing Talbot is a blow to the Senators, who also acquired winger Alex DeBrincat from Chicago and signed longtime Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux as part of a move toward contending and ending their playoff drought.

Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

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CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.

The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.

Lightning donate $2 million to Hurricane Ian relief efforts

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TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning and team owner Jeff Vinik are donating $2 million toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts.

The NHL team announced that $1 million each will be donated by the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Vinik Family Foundation.

“This is a tragic situation for many families and communities across the state of Florida, but especially so in the southwest region of the state,” Vinik said in a statement released by the team. “In times like these the most important thing we can do is support one another, and we hope this donation will help families recover and rebuild in the months to come.”

Ian made landfall Wednesday on Florida’s Gulf Coast, south of the Tampa Bay area. The Lightning postponed two home preseason games and moved the club’s training camp to Nashville, Tennessee, during the storm.