No. 2: Western Conference finals, vs. Los Angeles (5-4 OT loss)
Through four games in this series, the matchup of “the two true best teams” was good, if not spectacular. But all Blackhawks fans saw was a 3-1 series deficit.
Then, this series hit an otherworldly level for the final three games. And it was incredible to watch, for fans of either team or just fans of hockey.
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In Game 5, the Blackhawks jumped out to a two-goal lead early, had to come back to tie in the third period and eventually won in a second overtime. In Game 6, the Blackhawks scored the final two goals with less than nine minutes to play, achieving another one-goal win.
That set the stage for Game 7, which had the United Center rocking in ways not seen outside Stanley Cup Final games. You still had the feeling this *was* the Stanley Cup Final (the Kings would, more or less, prove that in the next round).
This one started with two Blackhawks goals, including one on an awkward angle by Saad after a beautiful pass from Kane. The Kings, though, tied it in a one-minute stretch toward the end of the first. The Blackhawks followed the second of those L.A. goals with a strike of their own, and we had quite the contest on our hands.
The teams traded goals in the second period, while Marian Gaborik netted one for the Kings in the third. All the while, this just felt like a game for all the marbles, not just as the final step to the Stanley Cup Final.
Even when Alec Martinez‘s point shot deflected off Nick Leddy‘s stick and past Corey Crawford in overtime to end the series, you still knew you had witnessed an incredible Game 7. It just might’ve taken a while to let that sink in.