CHICAGO – Patrick Kane picked the definitive game to fully break out of his playoff slump as he scored the game winner in double overtime to send the Chicago Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup Finals for the second time in four years where they will face the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night. The Hawks sent the Los Angeles Kings home, taking a four games to one series Western Conference Final win. The goal was Kane’s third of the night for the hat trick. “He stepped up and took the responsibility as a leader on the team,” said Coach Joel Quenneville about Kane. “I commend him on two outstanding games. “
Two players returned to the lineup for each team, for the Kings Mike Richards returned to the lineup after suffering an upper-body injury in Game 1 from a collision with Dave Bolland. Richards made an impression as he scored the game-tying goal with seconds left in regulation. As for the Hawks, top defenseman Duncan Keith served his one game suspension due to a high sticking incident. Tyler Tofoli who was his replacement, has played well enough to stay in the lineup.
The first period saw the Hawks outshoot the Kings by a 10 to 4 margin, the Kings compensated by the amount of hits 21 to 12. But the Hawks got two quick goals in the opening frame in the first six minutes
The Hawks took possession of the puck in the neutral zone, Michal Rozsival gathered the biscuit and passed it across to his blue line partner Duncan Keith who rushed in, wound up, and fired one step into the offensive blue line and cruised the shot in between the pads of Jonathan Quick at the 3:42 mark.
Just over two minutes later, the much speedier Hawks chased down the puck before off-sides could be called which seemed to have taken Quick off-guard. But Bryan Bickell was crushing in that forced Quick to poke check the puck that bounced around with his defensemen toppling in on top of him. That allowed Patrick Kane to skate through the lane and finding the wide open shot. Jonathan Toews and Bickell got the assists.
The Kings didn’t have a shot until 9:18 left in the period as Jeff Carter was able to get one near Corey Crawford.
The second period became a little more chippy. The first penalty of the game was called 7:50 into the period sending Dustin Penner to the box for interference.
Short handed, the Los Angeles Kings Justin Williams, with defenseman Nick Leddy drapped over him was able to take the puck and skate on in and sweep the puck in towards Crawford. He allowed a rebound out to the far side allowing Dwight King to get the puck in five-hole as the netminder was going to his left with twenty-two seconds left on the penalty.
The Kings in the second had a much better period cutting down the Hawks lead in half and getting more scoring opportunities. They doubled-up their first period shots hitting two more than the Hawks in the middle frame as their special teams kicked it up a notch.
Early in the third, Bryan Bickell was sent away on a boarding call called. Kings center Jeff Carter took a shot in the open lane from just inside the blue line where his team had presence in front of the net. A rebound dropped down short and Anze Kopitar was able to get his first goal of the series tapping in the goal between the legs of Crawford 3:34 into the last frame to tie it up at two goals.
In a battle for the puck behind the net, Justin Williams went down in what might have been a tripping call but Bryan Bickell got the puck and pushed it out with a quick pass to Patrick Kane for his second goal of the game with 3:52 left in the game to give them a 3-2 lead.
But with 14 seconds left in the period, an icing call brought the puck back into the Hawks zone. With Quick off for the extra attacker, Jared Stoll won the faceoff, and the Kings spaced themselves out taking the Hawks with them. Again they got presence in front of the net. Kopitar got the puck and shot it towards the net where it deflected off of Mike Richards leg pad and in with 9 seconds left sending the game into extra time.
“That’s a tough feeling, when you are 9 seconds away and two little bounces goes against you,” said Hawks captain Jonathan Toews , “turn the page and get over it… In overtime it is just one chance, one lucky bounce that is going in.”
Into the first overtime, the Kings were outshooting the Hawks and that continued into the second overtime but both teams played some of the best hockey in these two periods. But in the end, it was Chicago speed that got them on top. Jonathan Toews and Kane got out on the two on one rush that set up a one-timer in past Quick to give the Hawks the Campbell Bowl as the Western Conference Champions.
“I knew that he was going to come back to me,” as Kane described the odd-man rush with Toews, “ just tried to wait for the defenseman to go by me and he made a great pass and just tried to get it off a quick as I could and into the net.”
“We went to the Conference Finals again. That tells you how fine a line it is. We got beat in the Conference Finals by the best team in the conference at the end of the day, “ said Kings Coach Darryl Sutter was asked if he took and solace from the way his team played this year, ”We accomplished everything. Once you set the bar up there, then that’s your bar. So obviously we’re disappointed to lose to Chicago, but we’re certainly not disappointed in how we played.”
Jonathan Quick, last year’s Conn Smyth Trophy winner stopped 31 of 35 shots in the loss and was the best goaltender in the playoffs up until this series. Corey Crawford escalated his game and took that spot away with 12 wins under his belt with for more to go to reach the Stanley Cup Championship.
And how does Quenneville feel about this matchup of Original Six Teams facing each other the first time in 39 years, “It’s good for the league, its good for hockey… it should set up for a great final.” And that is very true of these two great cities. It is amazing that after all these years of the NHL, especially the early years that the Bruins and Hawks never faced each other in the Finals.
Three Stars of the Game
Third Star Los Angeles Kings Center Anze Kopitar with a goal and an assist
Second Star Chicago Blackhawks Defenseman Duncan Keith with the opening goal
First Star Chicago Blackhawk Right Wing Patrick game with the hat-trick and game winner
2013 Stanley Cup Finals
Game 1: Boston Bruins at Chicago Blackhawks, Wednesday, June 12 at 7:00pm
Game 2: Boston Bruins at Chicago Blackhawks, Saturday, June 15 at 7:00pm
Game 3: Chicago Blackhawks at Boston Bruins, Monday, June 17 at 7:00pm
Game 4: Chicago Blackhawks at Boston Bruins, Wednesday, June 19at 7:00pm
*Game 5: Boston Bruins at Chicago Blackhawks, Saturday, June 22 at 7:00pm
*Game 6: Chicago Blackhawks at Boston Bruins, Monday, June 24 at 7:00pm
*Game 7: Boston Bruins at Chicago Blackhawks, Wednesday, June 26 at 7:00pm
*If necessary Times in Central Time