A red carpet event opened the night with Hawks legends and current players walking the carpet as they arrived at the United Center. Then a video presentation featured LED wristbands on fans throughout the building, after a Stanley Cup run last spring and early summer montage was shown on the ice.
Eddie Olczyk was the master of ceremonies and welcomed the United Center faithful before introducing owner Rocky Wirtz.
“It took blood, sweat, guts to take home two Stanley Cups in four years,” Wirtz told the capacity crowd.
Following introductions of Hawks personnel and coaches the Hawks skated onto the ice one-by-one with defenseman Duncan Keith carrying the Cup. Captain Jonathan Toews was the last player to be introduced and skated around with the Cup one last time.
Youth hockey players from Illinois presented the championship banner, which the Hawks brought to a corner of the rink, then ascended it into place next to the 2010 banner. The Hawks skated away and began their journey toward trying to become the first team to repeat since the Red Wings in 1997-98.
First-period goals from Brandon Bollig and Patrick Kane followed by a go-ahead power-play score from Brent Seabrook in the second, but a pair of Caps’ power-play goals gave them the lead midway through the third period.
Saad received a feed from Michal Handzus to score the equalizer, birthday kid Oduya then sent a shot pass Caps’ goaltender Braden Holtby that slipped between his glove and leg pad for a 5-4 lead with under six minutes to play.
The Hawks’ defense and goaltender Corey Crawford killed off a 5-on-3 advantage in the final 86 seconds to hold the one goal lead, then Hossa chased a loose puck with Holtby on the bench. Caps defenseman Mike Green took out Hossa and a goal was credited to Hossa.
Bollig scored the opening goal and his first career regular-season, a rebound score just four minutes in. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin evened the score at 1-1 on the power play, and Kane answered 23 seconds later with a wrister to the top-shelf for a 2-1 Hawks’ lead.
Michael Grabovski caught the Hawks’ on an odd-man rush and send a shot to Hawks goaltender Corey Crawford’s short side to make it 2-2 midway through the second.
Hawks forward Marian Hossa and Brandon Saad worked a give-and-go before Saad fired a shot that was kicked aside for Seabrook, who rocketed a score for a 3-2 Hawks’ lead at the 16:32 mark.
With the victory the Hawks became the first team since the 2009 Penguins to record a win after raising a Cup banner.
The Hawks will host the Tampa Bay Lighting on Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. CT (CSN-CH/WGN 720).