Thursday at 7 p.m., you can rewatch the 2010 Blackhawks make history in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Philadelphia Flyers on NBC Sports Chicago.
2010 Stanley Cup champ Brent Sopel will help us set the scene.
With the opportunity to win the franchise's first Stanley Cup in 49 years after a 7-4 victory in Game 5 at the United Center and leading the series 3-2, the Hawks didn't want to get too high heading into Philly for Game 6.
Each game of the series had been won on home ice through Game 5.
"Our group was really good at staying focused," Sopel said over the phone on Tuesday. "We didn't look any further than the first period. Yes, everybody thought about the opportunity of winning and the family coming down and that kind of stuff, but everybody was focused on the task at hand to make sure we took care of that task before the fun began."
Game 6 started as a scoreless chess match until Dustin Byfuglien scored a power-play goal, his 11th marker of the 2010 postseason, late in the opening frame at 16:49.
"In playoffs, you don't want to ride a roller coaster. Obviously, we were happy with where we were, but no, we weren't any more excited. Just focused on the task shift by shift," Sopel said of the Hawks' mindset after Byfuglien's goal put the Blackhawks up 1-0.
Chicago was trailing 2-1 around the midway point of the second period when Patrick Sharp scored his 11th goal of the 2010 playoffs at 9:58 to tie it up 2-2.
Andrew Ladd made it 3-2 later in the second at 17:43.
Scott Hartnell scored his second goal of the game to tie it for Philly at 16:01 of the third period.
The teams would go to their locker rooms to prep for overtime.
"If you would have told us in September, 'You'll be in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final going into overtime,' we would have taken it," Sopel said. "Went in the dressing room, a couple things were said. We just stayed off that roller coaster and it was pretty even keeled the whole way. It just allowed us to get back out there and start overtime and go after it."
When Patrick Kane scored his "Goal of the Decade" 4:06 into OT for the 4-3 final score, the launching pad for the "Franchise of the Decade", Brent wanted to make sure it was for real before celebrating.
"I think I was the last one [off the bench]. I really slowly kind of climbed over the boards," Sopel said. "I almost walked on the ice because I knew this was going to be my one shot with being older and where my career was and everything that had been going on.
"I knew this was my one opportunity, so I didn't want to get too excited, because I didn't see it go in, and have it be called back. So I wanted to be overly sure. Then I saw the coaches' reaction and then it was obviously Showtime."
At first, the unusual way the goal was scored left Brent skeptical.
"I saw the play, but it was on the ice, not a lot of room, and you never see a puck go in that way and not come out, and that was it," Sopel said. "Everybody plays off the reaction of the mesh or of the puck going back out, and the fact that the goal light didn't go on and there was no puck coming back out, it was kind of a mystery. And that's why I didn't want to get too excited because I was like, 'Where the hell did it go?' The way Leighton was hugged up against the post, it very easily could have been in his pads."
It wasn't caught in Leighton's pads. It was for real. An epic celebration ensued, lasting until the next season’s home opener and banner ceremony.
For Sopel, what the team was able to achieve and how the city of Chicago responded were the best parts of the 2010 Stanley Cup championship.
"That was the tightest knit group that I've ever been a part of," said Sopel, who played for six NHL teams in 12 seasons. "So the feeling of accomplishment for that group, but just the city. It comes full circle. I played my first NHL game here in Chicago (for the Vancouver Canucks on April 5, 1999).
"To come back and see... look at the parade, two, three million people, the looks on people's faces, the excitement on people's faces was priceless… The whole city came together on a level I didn't know was possible."
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