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Kane is able to play hero for Blackhawks

Touch 'em all, Patrick Kane, you'll never score a bigger goal in your life. The Blackhawks winger beat Michael Leighton at 4:06 of the first overtime to give Chicago a 4-3 victory and its first Stanley Cup in 49 years.

Touch 'em all, Patrick Kane, you'll never score a bigger goal in your life.

The Blackhawks winger beat Michael Leighton at 4:06 of the first overtime to give Chicago a 4-3 victory and its first Stanley Cup in 49 years.

Leighton was hugging the post, but Kane's shot found its way past Leighton's long side from the left wing. There was some question whether it went in, for everybody except Kane.

"I knew it was in right away," Kane said, "I can't believe this just happened."

It is Chicago's first Stanley Cup championship since 1961 when Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita prowled the ice for the Blackhawks.

Kane was the No. 1 overall pick and, oddly, could have been a Flyer if the 2007 lottery balls had bounced the right way. The Flyers were the worst team in the league that season, but Chicago ended up with the No. 1 overall pick and took Kane. Philadelphia ended up with James van Riemsdyk.

If Kane and Jonathan Toews are the Ferraris of the Chicago forwards, Patrick Sharp is the sturdy pickup truck.

Sharp, who scored his fourth goal of the series last night, had his career and his life changed the December day in 2005 when he was traded by the Flyers to Chicago for Matt Ellison and a third-round pick. Sharp has emerged as one of the leaders; his acquisition viewed as the kick-start to the franchise's dramatic turnaround while Ellison plays in Russia.

It's a onesided deal today, but at time, Sharp could not grasp coach Ken Hitchcock's defensive style and became tradeable even after helping the Phantoms win the AHL's 2005 Calder Cup. Current Flyers Jeff Carter and Mike Richards were on that team, as was current Blackhawk Ben Eager.

"It's pretty neat that I've won two championships and they've both been on this ice," he said through intermittent tears. "I owe the Flyers a lot. They did a heck of a lot for my career as a player and I'm really thankful they gave me the opportunity to develop in Chicago."

Sharp, who attended Vermont, will marry his college sweetheart Abby Banever in July. Banever graduated from the University of Pennsylvania's nursing school.

"[Getting traded] was hard at the time because we didn't know what the future held," Banever said. "But when we got to Chicago our lives turned around."

Similarly, Kane's life changed last night. That goal will be in one of those poignant Stanley Cup commercials, if he hasn't been already.

"Everything we've been through," Kane said, "it's just so exciting. I tried to sell the celebration a bit . . . It's pretty surreal right now, for sure."

Kane, Toews and Dustin Byfuglien were on the same line at the start of the series, but were broken up after Game 4 due to ineffectiveness that had Chris Pronger's name all over it.

Kane was moved to a line with Sharp. He had a goal and an assist in Game 5 and a goal and two assists last night.

His game-winner was the first to clinch the Cup in an overtime game since New Jersey's Jason Arnott sealed Dallas' fate in 2000.

Byfuglien opened the scoring with a power-play goal after Pronger was whistled for high-sticking Toews.

The game went back-and-forth until Andrew Ladd scored late in the second period. Chicago seemed on its way to winning in regulation until Scott Hartnell scored his second goal of the game with just under 4 minutes remaining.

The Hawks didn't bring that deflation into the locker room during the intermission, instead they were focused.

"We just said someone has to get that feeling," Toews said. "Someone has to be the hero. Having it be Kaner, he's been awesome all series. Didn't matter who got the goal."

The win allowed Marian Hossa to dodge a dubious bit of history. A loser in the last two Stanley Cup finals with Pittsburgh and Detroit respectively, Hossa, finally broke through with a title. After commissioner Gary Bettman handed the Stanley Cup to Toews, it was no coincidence that he then passed it off to Hossa.

"It's amazing for him, I'm sure," Toews said. "Three long years."

Toews was named the Conn Smythe winner as the playoff MVP. At 22, Toews is the second-youngest player to captain his team to a title. Sidney Crosby was 21 last year. Wayne Gretzky was 23 in 1984.

"Oh my God. It's like that commercial," Toews said. "I'm speechless." *