The defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks got two goals from Patrick Kane, including the game winner late in the third period, to stave off elimination for a second time on Friday night, defeating the Los Angeles Kings 4-3 at the Staples Center to force a decisive Game 7 on Sunday night in Chicago.
The best-of-seven series is now tied at three games apiece.
Taking a cue from the previous five meetings in this series, Game 6 was full of momentum swings, dramatics and big plays from big-time players.
Dwight King got the Kings on the board first, taking advantage of a Blackhawks defensive breakdown in front of the net to beat Corey Crawford with a laser late in the first period.
But the Kings momentum would be very short lived.
Chicago came out buzzing to start the second period, and it got a pair of quick goals, from Kane and Ben Smith, just 97 seconds apart to seize the momentum and the lead.
The Blackhawks dominated the early going in the second frame, but the Kings came on late, getting several A-plus scoring chances on Crawford, who had to stand on his head and made 13 saves in the period to keep his team in the lead.
He even had to deal with a sort of altercation with fellow netminder Jonathan Quick, who agitated by what he perceived to be a late hit from Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw, got in his face and bumped masks with him on the way to the locker room.
The third period seemed to be trending in Chicago’s favor early, but Kings defenseman Drew Doughty put his team on his back, scoring a goal and assisting on Alec Martinez’s power-play marker to give the Kings the lead back in a span of just 2:06.
But the rollercoaster wasn’t through looping for these teams on this night.
Duncan Keith leveled the game with 8:26 to play in regulation, and then Kane, who now has seven points in the last two games, buried the game winner with under four minutes to play, sending the Los Angeles crowd home disappointed.
Game 7 will take place on Sunday night at the United Center in Chicago. The winner will host the Eastern Conference champion New York Rangers on Wednesday for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.