It took seven of Duncan Keith’s teeth and another comeback, but the Chicago Blackhawks swept the top seeded San Jose Sharks out of the Western Conference Finals and will play in their first Stanley Cup Finals since 1992.
Dustin Byfuglien again played the role of hero in Chicago, scoring another game-winning goal on a power play late in the third period before Kris Versteeg added an empty net goal to make the final score 4-2 in Chicago’s favor. Byfuglien now leads the Blackhawks with eight playoff goals.
On Byfuglien’s goal, Jonathan Toews was credited with an assist to extend his franchise-record point streak to 13 games. He continues to lead the NHL in postseason points, now with 26 points in 16 games.
In what had to be a fun change of pace, Antti Niemi only saw 18 shots on Sunday afternoon, allowing two goals. After the Blackhawks allowed their highest shot total at home of the season. Niemi allowed only seven goals in the series, five of which were scored by Patrick Marleau.
Keith left the ice spitting teeth in the second period after being hit squarely in the face with a clearing pass. He returned to the ice later in the period and still led the Blackhawks, playing 29:02 on Sunday. He reportedly lost four teeth on top and three on bottom, and yet Pierre McGuire still needed to interview him after the game.
Andrew Ladd also left the game with an injury, appearing to have an issue with his arm/wrist (or, as they say in the NHL, “upper body”) early in the first period. Ladd did not return, but coach Joel Quenneville indicated after the game that he “should be fine” for the Finals.
The Blackhawks will now wait for the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals.