The Chicago Blackhawks advanced to the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in four years, ousting the defending champion Los Angeles Kings in Game 5 by a 4-3 final in double-overtime.
The Blackhawks face the Boston Bruins in the first all-Original Six since the Montreal Canadiens defeated the New York Rangers in 1979. It’s the 11th meeting between the two franchises in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Patrick Kane, widely criticized for under-performing earlier in the series, netted a hat trick for the Blackhawks, including the game-winner at 11:40 of double overtime.
The game-winner started with a turnover by the Kings in the attacking zone. Anze Kopitar played the puck around the boards to a pinching Slava Voynov, who lost a puck battle to Bryan Bickel. Toews raced down the left side and fed a perfect puck to Kane, who fired an equally perfect shot past Jonathan Quick for the game winner.
The 2-on-1 goal came moments after Toews and Kane failed to convert on an earlier odd-man rush.
“We had a play just before too, and Johnny just kind of toe-picked. Johnny made a great pass, and I just shot it as hard as I could,” said Kane on NBC.
The Blackhawks nearly had the game won in regulation, but Mike Richards deflected home an Anze Kopitar shot – with his pants –with just over nine seconds remaining in the third to tie the game at 3-3.
But it was Kane in overtime to send the Blackhawks back to the Final, where they won in 2010.
In Games 4 and 5 of the Western Conference Final, Patrick Kane was something he hadn’t been for the previous several games: Visible.
His goal in Game 4 was highlighted by eight shot attempts.
In Game 5, Kane followed a Duncan Keith goal in the first period – a soft one through Quick’s five hole – with a goal on gaffe by Quick. The Kings goalie anticipated an icing call that never came. Kane converted a turnover for the 2-0 lead.
Kane netted his second goal at 16:08 of the third period after the Kings roared back to tie the game on a shorthanded goal by Dwight King and a power-play goal by Kopitar. After a controversial play in which Justin Williams fell in front of Bryan Bickell – the Kings felt it was a trip – Kane scored on the ensuing turnover.
Then came the overtime game-winner, and a return trip to the Final for Kane.
In his last two games, Kane had 15 shot attempts and three goals. He regained the form that made him one of the most dangerous players in the regular season when he had 55 points in 47 games.
Every shift, Kane whirled around the ice, skating like he was hitting a succession of power-ups on the ice. Questions of “where is Patrick Kane?” had been replaced by questions of “where isn’t Patrick Kane?”
Now, all that stands between another ring for Kane and his teammates are the Boston Bruins. Which as formidable a challenge as they’ll have met this postseason.
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