Kings vs. Blackhawks: Patrick Kane, Chicago Deliver KO Punch in 2OT Thriller
Skating with running mate Jonathan Toews on a two-on-one effort, Kane whipped home the game-winning goal in the second overtime to give the Chicago Blackhawks a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings and the Western Conference title. The Blackhawks defeated the defending champions in five games.
That Kane ended the game with both a hat trick and the sudden-death winner was almost shocking. Prior to Game 4 in Los Angeles, Kane had been a dud in this playoff season. He had scored two goals in the postseason and had been scoreless in his previous seven games.
Kane, who delivered the Stanley Cup-winning goal for the Blackhawks in 2010 against the Philadelphia Flyers, came alive in Game 4 when he poached a goal from Bryan Bickell. He tapped in a puck that might have skittered past the goal line anyway, but you could feel the team's relief when he scored.
Kane nearly scored another at the Staples Center, and when the Blackhawks came back to Chicago, he was still soaring.
He nailed the second goal of the game early in the first period when he picked up a loose puck and patiently waited for his opening to develop before wristing the puck into the top of the net.
Then Kane appeared to give the Blackhawks the series when he scored with less than four minutes to go, taking a pass from Bickell and snapping it past Jonathan Quick. Bickell appeared to trip Justin Williams of the Kings before sending it to Kane, but there was no penalty call and the goal counted.
The Blackhawks were seconds away from winning the game when the Kings got a miracle of their own. With less than 10 seconds left, an Anze Kopitar shot banked off the body of Mike Richards and past Corey Crawford to send the game into overtime.
Kane and his teammates were in a bit of shock after Richards scored the tying goal with so little time left on the clock.
"So emotional," Kane told reporters after the game. "You start thinking about it when it goes to 14 seconds away from going to the final. It stuck with us for the first overtime. It was nice to close it out for sure."
What looked like a Chicago Cubs moment for the Blackhawks turned out to be a thrilling opportunity for Kane and Toews, the duo that collaborated to create the series-clinching goal.
The game-winner meant Kane became the first player to record a hat trick in a game that clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Final since Wayne Gretzky did it for the Kings in 1993, via ESPN.com.
Kane credited Toews with giving him the picture-perfect pass for the game-winner. "Johnny made a great pass, and I tried to get it off as quick as I could," he said.
Toews was feeling more relief than anything else that the Blackhawks were victorious. He had played a huge role on the Kings' tying goal, losing the faceoff that allowed the Kings to get in position to score.
"My heart sank at that moment and I think we were all a little bit down," Toews said at the postgame media session. "But once we got back to the locker room, we talked about it and got back on our game."
Kane was thrilled with the turnaround in his game. It was a feeling he tried to put into words for Chicago Tribune's David Haugh:
Kane: "It's almost like I'm in the Twilight Zone or something.''— David Haugh (@DavidHaugh) June 9, 2013
Now that Kane has found his magic touch, he will get a chance to put it on display against the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final.
It's what Kane and his teammates have been playing for all season.
The Blackhawks opened the season by going 21-0-3 and setting a record with that start. Now they have a chance to finish the season with even more flair, thanks to Kane's Western Conference-clinching hat trick.
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