Blackhawks Eliminated in 5-4 Loss to Kings

The Los Angeles Kings faced several deficits on Sunday night, but with a game-tying goal from Marian Gaborik and an overtime winner by Alec Martinez, the Kings knocked off the Chicago Blackhawks by a score of 5-4 to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in three seasons. 

The game got off to a fast start as both teams tried to establish their game plans early, but it was the Blackhawks that got on the board first. After a lengthy possession in the offensive zone, Patrick Kane feathered a pass across the ice to Brandon Saad, who fired a shot off of Jonathan Quick’s arm and into the cage to give Chicago a 1-0 lead about five minutes into the game.

The Blackhawks continued to press the issue on offense after that goal, but they were unable to light the lamp again. Duncan Keith had a great chance from the slot, but his shot skips wide. Ben Smith also had a chance that he deflected just wide, and he collected his own rebound and put another shot on net, but Quick smothered the opportunity.

The constant pressure on Chicago’s side of the ice finally paid off as they got a power play goal a few minutes later. Brent Seabrook received a pass at the blue line after Kane got into the zone, and when Seabrook’s shot was deflected by Kane to the middle of the ice, Jonathan Toews was there to tap in the loose puck and putting Chicago up by a 2-0 score.

After those two goals, it seemed as though the Kings finally got their skates underneath them a bit, and they began to pepper Corey Crawford with shots. Tyler Toffoli fired a shot off the post after Johnny Oduya lost the puck in his skates, but the Kings’ forward rebounded nicely by picking up the primary assist on a Jeff Carter goal a few moments later. When Toffoli’s shot bounced into the air off of Crawford, Carter batted it into the goal, and when video review upheld the play, the Kings only trailed by a 2-1 margin.

In the blink of an eye, the Kings tied things up. This time it was Justin Williams doing the damage, as he collected the rebound on a shot that bounced off of Michal Rozsival in front, and he fired a snap shot past Crawford to tie things up at 2-2.

Just 12 seconds later, the Kings turned the puck over in the neutral zone, and the Blackhawks took the lead right back. Patrick Sharp carried the puck into the offensive zone, and when he put a shot toward the goal from the face-off circle, it bounced over Quick’s leg pad and into the net to give Chicago a 3-2 lead heading into the first intermission.

The Blackhawks got off to a dominant start in the period, preventing the Kings from getting a single shot on goal in the first seven minutes of the frame. The Hawks had some good possessions over that stretch, but they were unable to add onto their lead, and it ended up costing them.

About halfway through the period, the Kings established some good possession in the offensive zone, and when Dwight King’s shot toward the net was deflected by Michal Handzus, Toffoli picked it up and deposited it into the empty net to make it a 3-3 game.

As the period wore on, both teams had power play opportunities, but neither could convert. The Blackhawks had a good chance on a Keith shot from the point, but Quick was able to make the save and smother the puck to keep the game tied up. Kane also made a key play during a 4-on-4 stretch when Mike Richards tried to jump out on a breakaway, backchecking the puck carrier and forcing an awkward shot that didn’t find its way on net.

The Blackhawks got another power play late in the period, and this time they were able to convert. With Jake Muzzin screening Quick, Sharp got the puck near the blue line and fired a slap shot just inside the near post to give the Hawks a 4-3 lead after two periods.

As the third period got underway, the Kings and Blahawks exchanged chances, but neither team could score. Crawford made a huge save on a breakaway attempt by Tanner Pearson to keep the Haws ahead, and Quick robbed Marcus Kruger on a chance from in close to keep his team in the game. Alec Martinez also made a key play on a 2-on-1 Chicago rush as he broke up a cross-ice pass attempt by Bryan Bickell. 

Ultimately, it was the Kings who got the game-tying goal in the third period, and it came thanks to a great 3-on-2 rush up the ice. Dustin Brown fired a high shot in on Crawford, who made the initial save but couldn't control the rebound as Marian Gaborik tapped in the rebound chance to make it a 4-4 game with a little over seven minutes remaining. 

In the final seconds of the period, the Hawks' second line once again got some great chances, but Quick made sure that the game went to overtime as he covered up the puck before Kane could get at a rebound off of Shaw's shot from the slot. 

In the overtime period, both teams had quality chances to score, but in the end it was Los Angeles that triumphed. When Williams got the puck in the middle of the ice off a turnover, he immediately fired a shot towards the net. It ended up bouncing off of Martinez's stick and Chicago defenseman Nick Leddy, ultimately popping over Crawford's shoulder and into the net to give the Kings the series triumph and send the Hawks home for the summer. 

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