Dethrone Hawks, Advance To Stanley Cup Finals
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[June 02, 2014]
By Nick Carey
CHICAGO (Reuters) - The Los Angeles Kings
advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals with a stunning 5-4 overtime victory
over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game Seven of a captivating NHL Western
Conference Finals series on Sunday.
Alec Martinez silenced a raucous United Center crowd when he
scored the series-deciding goal 5:47 into the first extra session,
his shot from the left point hitting Chicago defenseman Nick Leddy
and looping past goaltender Corey Crawford.
Bidding to lift a second title in three years, the Kings move on to
face the New York Rangers, who beat the Montreal Canadiens in six
games to reach their first finals since 1994.
In the match-up between the last two Stanley Cup champions, the
Blackhawks rallied from a 3-1 series deficit but were unable to get
over the line on home ice as they sought to become the first team to
win back-to-back NHL titles since the Detroit Red Wings in 1998.
"I thought both teams left it out there and unfortunately somebody
had to lose," Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville told reporters.
"A tough ending."
The never-say-die Kings came from behind three times in Sunday's
contest to emphasize the battling qualities of a team that has
emerged victorious in three consecutive Game Seven deciders in this
"We never once believed tonight that we weren't going to win this
game," said the Kings' Drew Doughty, who leads the playoffs in
points (16) for a defenseman. "We knew that we were going to come
Marian Gaborik scored his NHL-leading 12th goal of this postseason
with 7:17 left in the third period to tie the score at 4-4 and force
overtime after Jeff Carter, Justin Williams and Tyler Toffoli had
also tallied for the Kings.
"You need everyone when you get to Game Seven," Kings head coach
Darryl Sutter added. "There's always guys that score big goals and
make big plays but you need everybody in your lineup out there."
The Blackhawks raced to a 2-0 lead in a high-scoring first period on
goals from Brandon Saad and team captain Jonathan Toews.
The visitors struck back when a rebound from the Kings's Dustin
Brown was swatted out of the air by Carter for his ninth tally of
the playoffs, with the goal upheld after an official review.
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The Kings made it 2-2 on a Slava Voynov shot that was deflected to
Williams, who beat Crawford with a shot from the slot.
The tie lasted only a matter of seconds as Patrick Sharp scored his
first of two goals of the night for Chicago, who led 3-2 after a
frantic opening period.
Toffoli then tied the game once more in the second period before
Sharp added another goal to give the Blackhawks a 4-3 lead heading
into the final frame.
The Kings will host Game One of the best-of-seven Stanley Cup Finals
"Within the past few years, we've tried to earn the respect of the
league," Williams said. "LA is not just a place to come play a
hockey game and work on your tan."
(Additional reporting by Michael Hirtzer and Karl Plume; Editing by
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