No. 3: Chicago Blackhawks vs. Los Angeles Kings, 2013
Now we start getting to the juicy entries on this list. While this series only went five games, it provided us a glimpse into the very near future. These two teams were both in their prime, and we really should’ve gotten a longer series out of this. I can imagine this series easily being No. 1 on this list if the Blackhawks hadn’t dealt with the Kings so quickly.
At the time, it was kind of a surprise the Blackhawks steamrolled through the defending Cup winner. The Blackhawks were by far the best team in the league during this lockout-shortened season, but they had just put everything on the line three consecutive games against Detroit, needing overtime to dispatch their rival. The Kings had needed seven games to get by San Jose the round before as well, so this set up as a “war in the trenches” kind of series.
Instead, Corey Crawford had a really nice series in net and the Blackhawks used dominant balance throughout their lineup to ease past the Kings. All but four players who took the ice for Chicago in at least one game (Nick Leddy, Marcus Kruger, Dave Bolland and Sheldon Brookbank) scored at least one point for the Blackhawks, with the postseason’s breakout star, Bryan Bickell, potting a team-best seven.
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The Blackhawks started the series down 1-0 after one period in Game 1, but goals from Marian Hossa and Sharp pushed the game in Chicago’s favor. Game 2 featured an infamous moment in which Crawford stood up for Toews when Kyle Clifford was giving him the business. Crow got right in Clifford’s face and tried to separate the two, leading to “Corey! Corey!” chants raining down from the UC rafters (as well as “LA sucks!” chants). Not surprisingly, the Blackhawks won that game, too.
The Kings defended their home ice for one game with a 3-1 triumph in Game 3, but the Blackhawks put a hammerlock on the series when Hossa tallied early in the third period of Game 4, the eventual winner in a 3-2 result.
That set the stage for the moment most everyone remembers best from this series: Kane’s hat trick in Game 5. This game was pretty much what we were expecting throughout the series, but it started as though the Blackhawks would blow out the Kings. An early 2-0 edge turned into a 2-2 tie in the third period before Kane struck for his second goal of the night with about four minutes remaining. The Kings then won an offensive-zone draw with less than 10 seconds to play, with Mike Richards sneaking one past Crawford to force overtime.
In true Blackhawks fashion, one overtime wasn’t enough, so they had a second. A 2-on-1 break with Toews and Kane was all the Blackhawks would need to bid the Kings adieu and roll into another great series, that one with the Boston Bruins.
Next: No. 2: No Human Can Withstand It