BOSTON (AP) -- An NHL-record unbeaten streak to start the lockout-shortened season.
Three straight victories to clinch the title.
From beginning to end, the Chicago Blackhawks skated away from the rest of the league.
Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland scored 17 seconds apart in the final 1:16 and the Blackhawks struck quickly to win Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final 3-2 on Monday night for their second NHL championship in four seasons.
"I still can't believe that finish. Oh my God, we never quit," said goalie Corey Crawford, who made 23 saves. "I never lost confidence. No one in our room ever did."
Jonathan Toews returned from injury to add a goal and an assist in the first finals between Original Six teams since 1979. Patrick Kane, whose overtime goal in Game 6 beat Philadelphia to win the 2010 championship, was voted the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as this year's playoffs MVP.
"In 2010, we didn't really know what we were doing. We just, we played great hockey and we were kind of oblivious to how good we were playing," said Toews, who scored his third goal of the playoffs to tie it 1-1 in the second period, then fed Bickell for the score that tied it with 76 seconds to play. "We played great hockey and we were kind of oblivious to how good we were playing.
"This time around, we know definitely how much work it takes and how much sacrifice it takes to get back here and this is an unbelievable group," Toews said. "We've been through a lot together this year and this is a sweet way to finish it off."
Trailing 2-1, Crawford went off for an extra skater and the Blackhawks converted when Toews fed it in front and Bickell scored from the edge of the crease to tie the score.
Perhaps the Bruins expected it to go to overtime, as three of the first four games in the series did.
Because they seemed to be caught off-guard on the ensuing faceoff. Chicago skated into the zone, sent a shot on net and after it deflected off a player and the post it went right to Bolland, who put it in the net and started the Chicago celebration with 59 seconds left in the game.
The Blackhawks on the ice gathered in the corner, while those on the bench began jumping up and down. It was only a minute later, when Boston's Tuukka Rask was off for an extra man, that Chicago withstood Boston's final push and pored over the boards, throwing their sticks and gloves across the ice.
The Bruins got 28 saves from Rask, who was hoping to contribute to an NHL title after serving as Tim Thomas' backup when Boston won it all two years ago. The sold-out TD Garden began chanting "We want the Cup!" after Milan Lucic's goal put the Bruins up 2-1 with eight minutes left, but it fell silent after their team coughed up the lead.
The arena was almost empty - except for a few hundred fans in red Blackhawks sweaters who filtered down to the front rows - when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman handed the 35-pound Cup to Toews, who left Game 5 with an undisclosed injury and wasn't confirmed for the lineup until the morning skate.
The Chicago captain skated the Cup right over the crease in which the Blackhawks mounted the comeback and in front of the fans in Blackhawks sweaters who lined the front row behind the net. Toews banged on the glass while the remaining Bruins fans headed up the runways.
He then continued the tradition of handing it from player to player before the team settled to the side of the faceoff circle for a picture with the trophy they will possess for the next 12 months.
"It's unbelievable man," Crawford said. "So much hard work to get to this point. Great effort by everyone on the team."
The Blackhawks opened the season on a 21-0-3 streak and coasted to the Presidents' Trophy that goes to the team with the best regular-season record. But regular-season excellence has not translated into playoff success: Chicago is the first team with the best record to win the Cup since the 2008 Detroit Red Wings.
The Blackhawks went through Minnesota in five games and Detroit in seven, rallying in the Western Conference semifinals from a 3-1 deficit and winning Game 7 in overtime. They got through the defending NHL champion Los Angeles Kings in five games to return to the Cup finals, where Boston was waiting.
The Blackhawks won the first game at home in three overtimes but dropped Game 2 - another overtime - and fell behind 2-1 in the series when it returned to Boston.
But since then, it's been all Chicago.
The tightly contested finals - with three games going a total of five overtimes - may help fans forget the lockout that shortened the season to 48 games and pushed back the opener to Jan. 19. That left the teams still playing ice hockey on a 95-degree day in Boston on June 24, matching the latest date in NHL history.
Fans in their Bruins sweaters filtered into the air conditioned TD Garden to see the last game in Boston for the year with the hope there would be one more in Chicago: a seventh game just like two years ago, when the Bruins rallied from a 3-2 deficit, then won in Vancouver for their first NHL championship since 1972.
Both teams were bolstered by the return of star forwards, Selke Trophy winner Toews of Chicago and Patrice Bergeron, who was a finalist for the award given to the top defensive forward in the league. Both returned after missing the end of Game 5, and but only Toews showed up in the box score.
What had already been a physical series continued to take its toll, with Jaromir Jagr - the NHL's active playoff scoring leader - and Andrew Shaw both going to the dressing room during the first period. Jagr's injury was not known, but Shaw deflected a slap shot from Shawn Thornton off his own right cheek and crumpled to the ice, leaving behind a pool of blood when he skated off.
Both returned, but Jagr again disappeared from the Boston bench in the second. Crawford also forced a stoppage of play when his mask came off following a David Krejci slap shot off his shoulder; the Chicago goalie appeared to need a little time to recover, but he stayed in the game.
The Bruins, who never led in Games 4 and 5, took the lead seven minutes into the game when Tyler Seguin gloved a pass from Daniel Paille and controlled it, then backhanded it across the middle to Chris Kelly. He beat Crawford on the glove side to make it 1-0.
But the Blackhawks tied it early in the second when, as a Bruins power play was ending, Toews broke into the Boston zone on the right side. He had Kane in the middle and Andrew Shaw coming out of the box, but didn't need either one, rattling it in off the right post to make it 1-1.
It stayed that way until Lucic put Boston ahead with 7:49 left in the third.
The final series seemed headed for a Game 7 for the sixth time in the last 10 years before Bickell and Bolland turned it around.
"Dave Bolland, what else can you say about that guy?" Kane said. "He just shows up in big playoff games."
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Adam Wainwright lost the lead in the seventh, and then he lost his temper.
The St. Louis Cardinals ace strenuously objected to being pulled before Ian Kinsler's go-ahead hit that helped the Texas Rangers complete a soggy three-game interleague sweep with a 2-1 victory Sunday night.
Hearing manager Mike Matheny's assessment that he'd been "laboring" and that it had been "two pretty stressful innings in a row" got Wainwright even hotter.
"He's wrong," Wainwright said after missing a chance to become the National League's first 11-game winner. "You don't want to call your manager out and I would never do that. Laboring is not what I was doing."
After noting Matheny was in charge and criticizing himself for allowing the tying hit, Wainwright (10-5) had more to say on the issue of fatigue. He gave up an earned run in 6 2-3 innings, ending a string of six straight outings of seven innings or longer during which he'd gone 5-1.
"If you think I'm laboring because I went into deep counts, I went into deep counts all day," Wainwright said. "Made good pitches. That's his opinion."
Wainwright said there was no use trying to persuade Matheny to leave him in the game, because the umpires had already been informed of a double switch. He struck out six and walked one.
"No amount of lobbying ... I wasn't going to stay in that game," Wainwright said. "But I mean, no, I didn't want to come out of that game. I felt I was as strong or stronger at the end than I was in the beginning."
He wouldn't say whether he confronted Matheny in the dugout.
"Even if I did, I would never tell y'all that," Wainwright told reporters. "That's something that stays in here."
The finale of Texas' first visit to Busch Stadium since losing Games 6 and 7 of the 2011 World Series, and first time ever in the regular season, was delayed 2 hours and 59 minutes by heavy rain with less than half of a near-capacity crowd sticking around. The first pitch Saturday night was pushed back 1 hour, 6 minutes and was the third rain delay of the Cardinals' 3-4 homestand.
"Well, the other team's dealing with it, too," Matheny said. "It's odd. You don't want to go through the season like this."
Rookie Nick Tepesch had a resurgent outing for Texas, allowing a run on four hits in 5 2-3 innings after surrendering 11 runs in 8 2-3 innings the previous two starts. Kinsler and David Murphy had two hits apiece for the AL West-leading Rangers, who have won five in a row after losing six straight.
The Cardinals, who have the majors' best record at 47-29, were swept for the first time this season and totaled just seven runs.
"I got good pitches to hit," said second-place hitter Carlos Beltran, who was 0 for 4. "Today, I just couldn't do anything with them. The whole series I got pitches right down the middle."
Leadoff man Matt Carpenter homered to start the sixth, singled and walked for St. Louis.
Robbie Ross (4-1) got the last out of the sixth to strand a pair of runners and Joe Nathan worked around two hits in the ninth to earn his third save of the series and 25th overall in 26 chances.
Pete Kozma, whose fielding error at shortstop set the stage for Kinsler's go-ahead hit, lined into an inning-ending double play.
Wainwright retired the first two batters before Murphy doubled off the base of the right-field wall in the seventh and scored on a single by Leonys Martin to chase the Cardinals ace. Reliever Trevor Rosenthal appeared to get the Cardinals out of the inning still tied but Kozma dropped pinch hitter Jurickson Profar's weak pop fly, and Kinsler followed with the go-ahead hit.
Tepesch, a former Missouri star from suburban Kansas City, held the Cardinals hitless before David Freese singled with one out in the fifth. He struck out three and walked two.
The Rangers had two on with one out in the sixth with the heart of the order coming up after Elvis Andrus drew a full-count walk, but Wainwright got Nelson to pop out to shallow left and Adrian Beltre on a foul ball out.
Both teams have Monday off with the Rangers headed to New York to face the Yankees and the Cardinals opening a two-game set at Houston - but both teams apparently had little interest in a postponement Sunday night.
Notes: Rookie LHP Martin Perez gave Rangers starters their first win of the month Saturday. Relievers claimed the first eight, half of them by Neal Cotts. ... Lance Berkman, who helped the Cardinals beat the Rangers in the 2011 World Series, did not play in the series due to knee soreness and because there was no DH in the NL park. Profar didn't start, either, after starting 16 games earlier this month. ... Actor David Guintoli, a St. Louis native who stars on the TV show Grimm, waited out the delay and threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
BOSTON (AP) -- Jonathan Toews watched the end of the fifth game of the Stanley Cup Final from the Blackhawks bench, unable to play after a hit to his head.
Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron was in a Chicago hospital after leaving the United Center by ambulance.
As the Stanley Cup Final approaches a sixth and potential clinching game on Monday night, the attention shifted from the players on the ice to the ones who might not make it there, including two of the top forwards and biggest stars in the series.
"It's not the best situation for either team," Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask said Sunday after both teams flew back to Boston. "But it's a tough sport, and injuries happen. When you leave it all out there to help your team win, that's all part of the game."
Bergeron was injured in the second period of Game 5 on Saturday night, which the Blackhawks won 3-1 to take a 3-2 lead in the series. He made two brief appearances on the ice in the third period but something was obviously wrong and he was unable to complete either shift.
Toews, who won the Selke Award as the NHL's top defensive forward - Bergeron was a finalist - missed the entire third period after a shot to the head from Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk.
"They're both great players," Chicago winger Patrick Sharp said. "I think any coach in the league, any player in the league would like to have those guys on their team. They take pride in taking faceoffs, playing well away from the puck, making their linemates better, (they're) both big parts of the locker room.
"I can't speak for what Boston is dealing with, with Bergeron. I know I don't need to say much about Jonathan. I think everyone knows what we think of him in our locker room. Hopefully we can have him back for (Monday)."
Bergeron, who was taken to the hospital for observation, was released later Saturday night and rejoined his teammates for a team meal.
"He was crushing some food," Bruins forward Brad Marchand said Sunday.
Bergeron was on the team flight back from Chicago. After the Bruins' bus arrived at the TD Garden in the afternoon, he walked without crutches or assistance to a car and was driven away.
"He's good. He came back with us and everything so hopefully he can play," Marchand said. "He looked really good today. He had a nice suit on, very dashing. Obviously, he's a big part of the team and hopefully he can play."
The Blackhawks lost Toews after Boychuk knocked him down in the slot, making contact with his head. Boychuk wasn't penalized, and NHL spokesman John Dellapina said on Sunday that the league reviewed the hit and there will be no supplemental discipline.
"I think they said it was clean, wasn't it? Then I agree with them," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "I'm not going to hide from that. If it wasn't a clean hit - I've been a guy that supported those kind of things that we need to get out of the game. But it was a clean hit."
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville alluded to the contact with the head but then said, "I'm not going to go there."
Toews was tied with Patrick Kane for the Blackhawks' team lead with 23 goals during the regular season. Since being reunited with Kane on Chicago's top line in Game 4, Chicago has rallied to take the lead in the best-of-seven series. Before he was knocked out of the Game 5, Toews assisted on both of Kane's goals.
"He's our leader," Chicago defenseman Johnny Oduya said. "You know, he's one of those guys, and when he's full-speed he gives everything he's got every game. That's something that is tough to replace."
Quenneville said Toews was doing much better and the team is optimistic he will be able to play in Game 6.
"We'll see how he is. I think the progress today, he's doing real good," Quenneville said. "We'll visit in the morning, and he seemed fine. So nothing has changed. Nothing is different. We'll keep an eye on him, and we'll go from there."
With or without Toews and Bergeron, the Blackhawks have a chance to clinch their second Stanley Cup title in four seasons on Monday night in Boston. If they lose, the series returns to Chicago for a decisive seventh game on Wednesday.
And that, Julien said, is why he wasn't worried about whether Toews will play or not.
"I think I should be looking in my backyard and make sure I've got my guys playing tomorrow before I start worrying about the game plan with them," he said. "Right now we know it's up to us to ... bring our `A' game if we want a chance to win. That part of it should be more important than who they have and don't have in their lineup."