BOSTON — One minute, the Boston Bruins seemed destined for yet another Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Finals.
In just 17 seconds, it all went away.
The Chicago Blackhawks tied Game 6 of the Finals at TD Garden last night with 1:16 left in regulation, then earned the right to hoist the Stanley Cup with 59 seconds left as the visiting Western Conference champions stunned the 17,565 on hand with a 3-2 victory.
“It’s shocking,” Boston goalie Tuukka Rask said afterwards. “You think you have things under control, we killed the penalty there with about five minutes to go and then they tie it. Many times you see the team that scores that late goal keeps momentum and they did.”
The loss stings because of the way it happened. Boston, a defensive juggernaut when it’s on its game, does not give away leads, and until last night hadn’t been eliminated from any playoffs in under seven games under the leadership of captain Zdeno Chara.
“I’d like to say that this could make us strong, going forward in the future, but this is going to hurt ... for a while,” said Boston center David Krejci.
There was plenty of time left when Milan Lucic scored the go-ahead goal, but once the Bruins killed Chicago’s power play with under four minutes left, it began to feel as if Game 7 was inevitable.
Instead, six weeks to the day after it happened here at the Garden, Boston experienced what Toronto felt when they lost the late lead in that shocking first round Game 7.
“We’ve done it to somebody else,” said Rask, who made 28 saves last night in Game 6. “Now we feel how it feels on the other side.”
How did Boston’s season end? Occam’s razor says the simplest explanation is usually the correct one, and it applies here. Chicago is a better hockey team than the Bruins.