After the big win on Thursday night, the Hawks were looking for a fast start to not give the Kings any hope and that was exactly what the Hawks received on Saturday night. Only 3:42 into the first period with the Los Angeles Kings in a line change, Duncan Keith raced over the blue line and shot one on Jonathan Quick and somehow it went five hole through his pads for a quick lead. NBC showed numerous replays and it looked like Quick was in position without the five hole exposed but his pads failed him for a rare soft goal by the reigning Conn Smythe winner. Less than three minutes later on a waved off icing call the Hawks crashed the net and an almost caught off guard Quick was down and out and Patrick Kane waited and deposited the puck into the back of the net for a 2-0 lead. The Hawks put a lot of constant pressure on the LA defense and Quick and it took all the way until 9:18 until the Kings were able to get their first shot on goal. The Kings only had 4 shots on goal and only one real good scoring chance and so after 20 minutes the Hawks headed to intermission with a 2-0 lead.
The bounces that went the Blackhawks way in the first period went the other way in the 2nd period or maybe it was just that the team with the better sustained pressure was making their own breaks. The Hawks were not able to keep up the forechecking pressure like they did in the first period and even though the Kings never scored with both teams at full strength they were able to control puck possession more than the Hawks would like. The Kings got on the board when the Hawks were on the powerplay with Justin Williams making a big push to the net and Dwight Kings putting in the rebound. The game seemed to get a lot chippier when Andrew Shaw made a run at Mike Richards. After the Kings scored they had jump in their skates and in the final seconds Anze Kopitar almost tied it up when his shot glanced off Crawford’s glove and hit the top of the net. The horn mercifully sounded as the 2nd period didn’t go the way the Hawks wanted to but the score still read 2-1 Hawks.
If the 2nd period didn’t go as planned the third really went off script. Early during the 3rd period Johnny Oduya had a great chance to put the Hawks up 3-1 but somehow Quick got his stick on the shot and when the puck went into the corner Byran Bickell boarded Jake Muzzin. On the powerplay Kopitar tied up the game with a rebound goal in front of Crawford. The air was out of the United Center, but the Hawks turned up the forecheck and with less than 3 minutes left Bryan Bickell got away with a questionable trip and Patrick Kane scored his second of the game to give the Hawks the 3-2 lead. The Hawks looked like they were on their way to victory but with 14.4 seconds left they iced the puck. The Kings called timeout and when they won the faceoff Mike Richards tipped in the shot Kopitar with less than 10 seconds left to send the game into overtime. I’m pretty sure every player and Blackhawks fan were extremely sick about not finishing but the game wasn’t over just heading to overtime.
Overtime started out all Kings and the star of the show was Crawford who made some great glove saves. The Hawks started to make a push late in the period with Brent Seabrook having the best chance as he blasted one just by the far post. One thing noticeable as overtime wore on was that the jump in the skates on both sides was gone and both teams look a lot slower than they did understandably when the game began. One strange play was when Seabrook gloved the puck near the blue line and the puck stayed underneath him all the was to Quick. The Kings out shot the Hawks 11-6 but there were no goals so when the horn sounded both teams headed to another intermission.
The second overtime looked like it had all the markings of heading to a third overtime. The Kings had the best chance early as Kopitar who had been pretty useless all series long until tonight almost put one in right out in front of Crawford but the puck slid by the far post. The players were noticeably gassed but halfway through the 2nd OT Jonthan Toews was able to get the puck on the boards and skate on a 2 on 1 and passed it perfectly on the stick to Kane for the winner! With the Goal the Hawks win 4-3 and are heading back to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since they won it in 2010.
– Patrick Kane is the first player to score a hat trick in a Western Conference Finals clinching game since Wayne Gretzky in 1993.
– This will be the first Finals with two Original 6 teams involved since 1979.
-This will be the 12th appearance all-time for the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Finals
-The Bruins and Hawks have never met in the Finals but have met five times in the playoffs with the last series being in 1978.
-Game 1 is Wednesday night puck drop is 8:20pm
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