|Posted on June 9, 2013 at 2:55 PM|
The Kings will head back home to Los Angeles after Game 5 of their Western Conference Final series with the Chicago Blackhawks, just not for the reasons they intended.
Los Angeles had an opportunity to extend the series to a sixth game at Staples Center after tying Saturday's contest in the final seconds, but the Blackhawks eventually prevailed 4-3 in double overtime, ending the Kings' run as Stanley Cup champions.
"You play hockey in June to win," said Kings forward Justin Williams. "You get this far, to not have a chance to defend it, it's frustrating. I can't stand looking at somebody else raising that cup, and now we're oing to have to do it.
Patrick Kane recorded the first conference-finals hat trick since Wayne Gretzky did it in 1993, including the game-winning goal 11:40 into the second overtime period as Chicago clinched its second Stanley Cup Finals berth in three years. The Blackhawks will meet the 2011 Cup champion Boston Bruins in the finals, which will begin on Wednesday in Chicago.
Corey Crawford made 33 saves for the 2013 Western Conference champs to help eliminate the Kings in five games.
The Blackhawks got off to a fast start, scoring twice in the first six minutes of Saturday's game. Defenseman Duncan Keith, fresh off a one-game suspension for slashing Kings forward Jeff Carter in the face in Game 3, put Chicago ahead 1-0 at the 3:42 mark of the opening period. Keith launched a slap shot from just inside the blue line that somehow found it way through goaltender Jonathan Quick's legs.
Kane then controlled a loose puck in front of the Kings' net and fired it top shelf behind an out-of-position Quick at 5:59, giving Chicago an early two-goal advantage.
The Kings chipped away at the lead, beginning with a short-handed goal from Dwight King midway through the second period.
"Our team is highly successful because of that [resolve]," said Kings coach Darryl Sutter. "There's not much you can do about giving up bad goals. If you want to put your head between your legs you're going to get your [butt] kicked. We don't do that. We respond the right way all the time."
Anze Kopitar, who struggled to produce for most of the postseason, tied it at 2-2 when he put home a rebound on the power play at 3:34 of the third period. The goal was Kopitar's first point of the series, and just his third goal in 18 playoff games this year.
At the time, it certainly seemed the next goal would be the game winner, and Kane came through for Chicago once more. After Justin Williams was knocked down behind the net, Bryan Bickell picked up the loose puck and centered it to Kane who beat Quick to the blocker side with just 3:52 remaining in regulation.
The clock dwindled down, and with 14.4 seconds left, the Kings were awarded one last face off in the Chicago zone.
Fresh out of a timeout, and with goaltender Jonathan Quick on the bench, the defending champs rolled out six skaters to the Blackhawks' five. Jarret Stoll slid the puck back off the draw, and Kopitar's long shot from the right boards deflected off Mike Richards and in with just 9.4 seconds remaining.
"I honestly don't think there's a worse feeling in hockey,when your nine seconds away. You know you have to get the puck out. Two little bounces go against you, next thing you know it's in your net," said Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews. "Your heart sinks pretty quick."
Richards recorded a goal and an assist on Saturday, in his first action since suffering an upper-body injury in Game 1.
Neither team was able to produce a game winner in the first extra period, forcing Game 5 into a second sudden-death session. Both sides had their chances in overtime, but the Blackhawks were the first to take advantage of an opportunity to end the game.
After Slava Voynov failed to hold the puck in the Chicago zone, the Blackhawks jumped out to an odd-man rush. Toews took the puck down the left side and connected on a pinpoint pass across the slot to Kane, whose one-timer beat Quick for the winning goal at 11:40 of double overtime.
"[Toews] made a great pass, and I tried to get it off as quick as I could," Kane said of his series-clinching goal.
Quick, who was once again the Kings' best player in the postseason, laid helplessly on the ice as the Blackhawks celebrated their accomplishment in front of a sold-out crowd of 22,237 at the United Center.
"That was a game you'll always remember," said Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville. "That was an amazing hockey game."
[Source: Sports Media 101] / [Photo: Mel Boysen]