It took more than 91 minutes to complete, but the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the defending-champion Los Angeles Kings to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.
For the fans that had been begging for more from Patrick Kane, the Hawks superstar showed up with his biggest game of the playoffs on Saturday night. A hat trick, including the game-winning goal in the second overtime, cements Chicago’s place in the Cup Final.
The Hawks jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period. Duncan Keith started the scoring only 3:42 into the game, the beginning of a long night for Keith after returning from suspension. Keith skated 40:12 in the game to lead all skaters.
Kane scored his first of the night just over two minutes later, and it appeared the Blackhawks were going to run away with the game. Both of the Hawks’ first two goals were shots Jonathan Quick would like to have back, and the United Center was up for grabs. When the first period ended, the Hawks had allowed only four shots and dominated the opening 20 minutes.
In the second, the Hawks continued to control the action early. When Dustin Penner went to the box 7:50 into the game, Chicago had an opportunity to extend their lead to a seemingly insurmountable three goals. But Dwight King put a short-handed goal past Corey Crawford and the game slowed down.
When Anze Kopitar scored a powerplay goal to tie the game less than four minutes into the third period, the crowd at the United Center was stunned.
For more than 12 minutes, the two teams pushed the puck up and down the ice and hit each other hard. A huge hit from Andrew Shaw that put Jake Muzzin into the Hawks’ bench brought some energy back into the building.
With less than four minutes left in regulation, Bryan Bickell found Kane in front of the net to give the Hawks a 3-2 lead. It was Kane’s second goal of the night and Bickell’s second assist.
Unfortunately, it was a bi-polar night for Bickell. Kopitar’s powerplay goal in the third came with Bickell in the box, and he iced the puck with just over 14 seconds on the clock in the third. A faceoff win and quick shot that bounced off Mike Richards tied the game with less than ten second remaining, and the game went to overtime.
The Kings dominated most of the action in the first overtime period, but Crawford kept the puck out of the net. In the second overtime, the Blackhawks were able to generate a few good chances. A two-on-one with Toews and Kane ended with a pretty pass from the captain to his wingman and Kane finished the game with his third goal of the night.
Hats hit the ice and the teams exchanged hand shakes.
Toews finished the night with two assists and three takeaways in 29:07. Bickell led the Hawks with eight hits with his two assists in 26:09, and Johnny Oduya had four blocked shots and four hits in 32:17. Shaw posted six hits and Marian Hossa led the Hawks with four takeaways.
Crawford stopped 33 of 36 shots to earn his 12th victory of the postseason. In the conference final, Crawford allowed 10 goals in five games and posted a .927 save percentage.
For the first time since 1979, two Original Six franchises will do battle in the Stanley Cup Final. Game One is at the United Center on Wednesday night.