May 30, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Ben Smith (28) celebrates with center Marcus Kruger (16), left wing Patrick Sharp (10) and defenseman Duncan Keith (2) his goal scored against the Los Angeles Kings during the second period in game six of the Western Conference Final of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Initially the Hawks were controlling the puck at the start of the 1st period. However, it didn’t take long for the Kings to start pressuring the Hawks, up until Matt Greene’s hooking penalty.
The ensuing Hawks Power Play produced 0 shots and the Kings retook control of the game once Greene was out of the box. It was only a matter of time, as Brent Seabrook and Michal Handzus both missed their defensive assignments on a Kings dump and chase that allowed Dwight King to blast the puck past Corey Crawford to give the Kings a 1-0 lead. That lead would hold all the way to the 1st intermission.
Just 20 seconds into the 2nd period, Anze Kopitar took a holding penalty on Jonathan Toews to give the Hawks their 2nd Power Play of the game. Unlike the powerless Power Play of the 1st period, this one would prove to be fruitful. Patrick Kane would find the back of the net to tie the game on his Power Play goal. It was the Hawks first road Power Play goal, in their last 25 chances.
Hawks scoring wouldn’t stop there. Ben Smith would sneak a rebound attempt past Jonathan Quick to give the Hawks a 2-1 lead at 2:49 of the 2nd period. Another chance would come for the Hawks, just minutes later when Marcus Kruger and Patrick Sharp would be denied on a breakaway, by Quick.
The Kings would get their first Power Play on Seabrook’s interference with Dustin Brown at 11:57 of the 2nd period. This penalty would be killed by the Hawks, but the Kings had some good chances.
Some serious pressure would be applied by the Hawks up until the 2nd intermission. Just as the final whistle blew, Andrew Shaw took out Quick, in his crease. Quick was none too pleased and some gnawing and scrapping ensued. As Quick was heading to the locker room, he and Crawford had a mini-altercation.
The sparks were beginning to fly. That’s what 5 consecutive periods of hockey at break-neck speed will do to you.
Early in the 3rd period, the Hawks were controlling the pace, but it would be the Kings who would strike. The ever dangerous Drew Doughty shot one of his knuckle-like puck past Crawford to tie the game.
A clearly frustrated Hawks team quickly found it’s captain, Toews, in the penalty box, soon after the Doughty goal. It would be Doughty again, this time with a beautiful pass to Alec Martinez, who would fire a shot into the back of the net, to give the lead back to the Kings, at 7:38 of the 3rd period.
Feeling the desperation, the Hawks started severely pressuring the Kings, and when you do that, good things will happen. That good thing would be Duncan Keith and his equalizing goal at 11:34, to make the game 3-3.
More and more pressure from the Hawks put the Kings on the heels of their skates. The newly formed dynamic duo of Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad would push them back a little further. After cycling the puck from the boards, through several Kings’ defenders and to the slot, Kane snapped the puck past Quick, to give the Hawks a 4-3 lead at 16:15 of the 3rd.
The Hawks wouldn’t let the Kings set anything up. They would come close, once they pulled Quick, in the final minutes, but Crawford denied them, as the Hawks completed the comeback to win the game 4-3.
This series is now tied at 3-3, with Game 7 set for Sunday, in Chicago. The Hawks are holding all the momentum, after two consecutive dramatic, character wins over the Kings. The Kings have got to be feeling lost after two consecutive nail-biter losses that they easily could have won.
If this series has taught us anything it’s that anything is possible.