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Hawks finish sweep, advance to Cup final

Kris Versteeg celebrates his empty-net goal with his Blackhawks teammates, including Dustin Byfuglien, left, who scored the go-ahead goal with 5:55 left.

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Kris Versteeg celebrates his empty-net goal with his Blackhawks teammates, including Dustin Byfuglien, left, who scored the go-ahead goal with 5:55 left.

CHICAGO — Dustin Byfuglien scored his third go-ahead goal of the West final, on a power play with 5:55 left, as the Blackhawks beat the Sharks 4-2 on Sunday to complete a four-game sweep and advance to the Stanley Cup final.

"Seems like he likes the spotlight. He likes being the hero. He steps up in big times," Chicago wing Patrick Sharp said. "He told me before the third period he was going to be the guy to go get it. True to his word, he got it."

Chicago hasn't won the Cup since 1960-61. This marks the sixth time it has reached the final since but the first since 1991-92, when it was swept by a Penguins team led by Mario Lemieux.

The Blackhawks tied it after trailing 2-0 early in the second. Then with a power play winding down, the 6-foot-4, 257-pound Byfuglien parked in front of the net. He took a pass from Patrick Kane and beat Evgeni Nabokov.

"I got my stick open in front of the net, and Kaner gave me a nice little feed," said Byfuglien, who scored 12:24 into overtime in Game 3 and the winner with 6:45 left in Game 1.

Moving Byfuglien, 25, to the top line with Kane, 21, and Jonathan Toews, 22, was one of coach Joel Quenneville's best moves.

"When you're playing with those two kids, the pucks are going to find you when you're not expecting it," Byfuglien said.

Meanwhile, it is another disappointing ending for San Jose, which edged Chicago by a point for the West's top seed. It's the fourth time since 2003-04 it has failed to reach the Cup final despite being a top-two seed.

This time, the Sharks were done in by Antti Niemi. The rookie goalie allowed only seven goals on 146 shots.

"I'm not going to criticize the effort," Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle said. "A combination of (Chicago) playing well defensively, (Niemi) playing well. The blame was on us, too. We didn't find a way to get it through, and I'm not really sure why that is."

Blackhawks 0 2 2 4
Sharks 1 1 0 2
Blackhawks win series 4-0

First Period1, San Jose, Couture 4 (Setoguchi, Murray), 11:08. PenaltiesHendry, Chi (holding stick), 5:02.

Second Period2, San Jose, Marleau 8 (Vlasic, Pavelski), 7:35 (sh). 3, Chicago, Seabrook 3 (Hjalmarsson, Versteeg), 13:15. 4, Chicago, Bolland 5 (Eager, Keith), 18:38. PenaltiesSetoguchi, SJ (tripping), 6:45; Heatley, SJ (hooking), 11:55; Toews, Chi (cross-checking), 12:48.

Third Period5, Chicago, Byfuglien 8 (Kane, Toews), 14:05 (pp). 6, Chicago, Versteeg 4, 19:18 (en). PenaltiesD.Boyle, SJ (delay of game), 4:27; Clowe, SJ (holding), 9:09; Heatley, SJ (slashing), 12:12. Shots on GoalSan Jose 7-8-3—18. Chicago 8-10-9—27. Power-play opportunitiesSan Jose 0 of 2; Chicago 1 of 5. GoaliesSan Jose, Nabokov 8-7-0 (26 shots-23 saves). Chicago, Niemi 12-4-0 (18-16). A22,224 (19,717).

Czechs win worlds: Florida's Tomas Vokoun made 35 saves as the Czech Republic beat Russia 2-1 in the final of the world championships in Cologne, Germany. Russia had won 27 consecutive tournament games dating to 2007 and sought its 26th title. Jakub Klepis and Tomas Rolinek scored for the Czechs, who have won six titles since the separation of Czechoslovakia. Sweden beat Germany 3-1 for third.

East final

FLYERS 3, CANADIENS 1

Game 1: Flyers 6, Canadiens 0

Game 2: Flyers 3,

Canadiens 0

Game 3: Canadiens 5, Flyers 1

Saturday: Flyers 3,

Canadiens 0

Tonight: at Philadelphia, 7, Versus

Wednesday: at Montreal, 7, Versus *

Friday: at Philadelphia, 7, Versus *

West final

BLACKHAWKS 4,

SHARKS 0

Game 1: Hawks 2, Sharks 1

Game 2: Hawks 4, Sharks 2

Game 3: Hawks 3, Sharks 2 OT

Sunday: Hawks 4, Sharks 2

* If necessary

Fast facts

Very long waits

The Blackhawks are four wins from ending the NHL's longest active Stanley Cup drought (the Flyers are five from ending a long one):

Team Last Seasons

Hawks '60-61 47 *

Blues None 42

Kings None 42

Leafs '66-67 42

Canucks None 39

Sabres None 39

Bruins '69-70 37

Capitals None 35

Flyers '74-75 33 *

Coyotes None 30

* Does not include this season

Hawks finish sweep, advance to Cup final 05/23/10 [Last modified: Sunday, May 23, 2010 10:21pm]

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