By Brad Vandenberk
With their surprise sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Boston Bruins awaited the winner of game 5 in the Western conference final in Chicago between the Blackhawks and LA Kings. If the Hawks win this contest, they will head to the Stanley Cup final. The Kings were trying to take the series back to LA and recreate the same momentum the Hawks had against Detroit.
Duncan Keith was back in the lineup for the home team after serving his one game suspension. The defensive pairings went back to normal upon Keith’s return. Coach Q decided to keep the same forward lines he ran at the midway point of game 4. Bryan Bickell was skating with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. This seemed to spark Kane last game and the Hawks needed to end this series in Chicago. LA also made a desperation move dressing Mike Richards. This was his first action in 3 games.
Just 3:42 after puck drop, Keith gets a welcome home present. He catches the Kings on a line change once again and walks across the blue line and fires a shot that tricks Jonathan Quick and slips through his pads. Queue Chelsea Dagger. Keith gave his team a 1-0 lead and the energy at the UC is electric.
The Kings begin to feel the Hawks pressure as their forecheck takes over. Toews, Kane and Bickell dominate the Kings offensive zone. Finally it pays off. Hawks get to a puck which was originally supposed to be an icing call. Kings seem to slow up on the play and the Hawks capitalize. Kane keeps a puck and comes across the crease and with all the patience in the world he goes bar down on a yawning cage. Queue Chelsea Dagger once again, 2-0 Hawks.
With zero shots on net with 10 minutes left in the period the Kings looked like they were beat. Viktor Stalberg uses his speed and gets around Robyn Regehr but Quick is there to make the save. The period ends with the Hawks leading the game and the shots on goal 10-4.
Early in the middle frame, Toews heads to the net trying to avoid Quick but ends up on top of him. Corey Crawford must have worked on his point shot coverage over the last couple of days because he made 2 great saves off Drew Doughty and Slava Voynov.
Everyone knew that Richards was going to be a target out there tonight and Andrew Shaw was the one to deliver the message. He cleans him up hard against the boards. Kyle Clifford chases Shaw down to stick up for his teammate. Shaw wanted no part of it and the game continued.
Moments later Clifford makes a thunderous hit on Bickell. Dustin Penner takes the game’s first penalty when he slams Dave Bolland to the ground at center ice.
Not only do the Hawks struggle again on their power play they also play the role of the observer when Justin Williams burst down the wing and sends a shot on Crawford. Dwight King is there to knock in the rebound for a shorthanded goal and the Kings cut the lead to 2-1.
Marian Hossa bursts through the Kings D and Quick needs to stand tall again. Patrick Sharp and Hossa break in on a 2 on 1 but can’t solve the goaltender. Toews gets careless with his stick and sends Dustin Brown to the ice. The Kings get their first power play and have a chance to tie it up. The Hawks kill off the penalty while the Kings struggling to enter the zone. Anze Kopitar lifts a quick puck on Crawford and he gets a piece of it but it heads off the top of the net. The Hawks finish the period leading 16-12 in shots.
Johnny Oduya almost adds to the lead early in the third when he has a wide open cage. Quick dives across and makes a spectacular save. Bickell is the next victim to visit the sin bin after he wallpapers Jake Muzzin’s face into the boards from behind.
The Kings make quick work on this power play. Jeff Carter takes a shot from the point and Kopitar is all alone in front of Crawford and knocks home the rebound once again through the five-hole. The scored was now tied and the crowd quickly quieted.
The Hawks come back with a good push showing their speed and dominating the forecheck once again. All lines begin to roll. Shaw gets cross checked in the face from Matt Greene and the Hawks try and break the deadlock on the power play. Struggles continue and the score remains tied.
Then, Bickell chases Williams down behind his own net, he trips and Bickell finds a wide open Kane for his 2nd of the night 3-2. There is only 3:52 remaining in the game and the crowd is on their feet. With under a minute left in the game the Hawks keep the Kings pinned deep, making it hard for Quick to leave the crease.
As the fans begin to cheer their team to victory the Hawks send the puck down the ice for an icing. With 14.4 ticks on the clock the Kings call their timeout. Toews loses the draw and Kopitar fires a shot on net hitting Richards and beating Crawford stunning the UC and sending the game into overtime.
The overtime was met with an uneasy crowd. The pressure was on the Hawks to close the game and series out.
The refs had their whistles put away for the fourth period. Niklas Hjalmarsson has his helmet ripped off by Brown and no call is made. Shaw gets clearly hooked by Greene and again no call. LA has three great chances to send this back to LA. Fatigue sets in when Kane drops a pass back to two Kings and they head up ice with Crawford bailing out his teammate. Kane was looking to get his hat trick as he sends a high shot over Quick after he saucers a nice pass to Bickell who can’t corral it. Both teams exchange chances and a second overtime is requested.
If Boston can go to double overtime and win so can the Hawks right? The pace continues into the 90th minute. Brent Seabrook stands Penner up at the blue line and the big winger goes down. Toews ends up on top of Quick once again and this time after the puck is frozen, Quick lets JT know how he feels. Bolland also feels the aggression getting hit hard by Brown.
Finally Toews and Kane made the Chicago faithful believe with 8:20 left. They break in on a 2 on 1 and Toews sends one of his no look passes across to Kane and Houdini reappears with the game winning goal and his third of the night. As the hats rain down from the United Center, Kane slides across the ice knowing he has just given his team a chance to play for the Stanley Cup against the big bad Boston Bruins.
-LA out shoots the Hawks 36-35
-Hawks go 0 for 2 on the power play with the Kings going 1 for 2.
-Keith returned with 40:12 TOI the next closest Hawk was Seabrook at 34:40. Stalberg only played 14:57
-Toews and Bickell finished with 2 assists a piece.
-Toews was 11 for 22 in the faceoff circle. Shaw was the only other center men over 50% going 6 for 11.
-The Hawks now wait to get the Stanley Cup final started on Wednesday night at the UC. Being the President Trophy winners they will get home ice advantage in this final against the Boston Bruins.