Hawks return to SCF defeating Kings 4-3 in double OT thriller

And then there were two. It took two overtimes for the Chicago Blackhawks to punch their ticket back to the Stanley Cup Finals but they did. They now are returning there for an opportunity at the most coveted trophy in sports.

The game saw the return of two key players for each side, Mike Richards for the Kings and Duncan Keith for the Blackhawks. Both players factored into the game in significant ways.

Duncan Keith got the scoring going in the first with what would have to be categorized as a soft goal by Jonathan Quick. Keith fired off a slap shot just inside the Kings blue line that squeaked through Quick’s pads into the net.

Quick seemed to make another misjudgment on what he thought was going to be an icing call that was waived off. The puck went to Patrick Kane who patiently waited til Quick was down and out and potted it to give the Hawks a commanding 2-0 lead. The Kings did not even register a shot on goal for the first 10 minutes of the game.

The first period ended with everything was going the Hawks way but not so fast, after all these are the defending Stanley Cup Champions they are playing.

The second period was won by LA and the horrid Hawks power play reared it’s head when the Kings scored a short handed goal by Dwight King when he and Justin Williams crashed the Hawks zone and net and cut the Hawks lead to one.

The third period saw Anze Kopitar tie the game on a power play for the Kings and the Hawks had to dig deep if they did not want to head back to Los Angeles.

Patrick Kane did dig deep and he scored what everyone thought was the game winning goal with just under four minutes left in regulation.  Then the unthinkable happened when the Hawks inadvertently iced the puck with nine seconds left a designed play saw Mike Richards deflect a puck past Corey Crawford to send the game into overtime.

Having been through so much and having faced so much adversity the Blackhawks once again had to find the resolve and patience to push through when the mind is tired, the legs are like cement and the fatigue is high. What makes a champion though is when you feel like that the difference is the will and the confidence to finish and finish the Hawks did.

It is only fitting in the biggest moments that Patrick Kane once again would shine as he buried the game winning goal in the second overtime to send the Kings back to LA and the Hawks to the Stanley Cup Finals. Coincidentally it was three years ago the Patrick Kane had the Stanley Cup winning goal against Philadelphia on this same date. The last player to have a hat trick in a conference finals was Wayne Gretzky, nice company to be in.

The play was a gorgeous rush with Jonathan Toews flying down the near side which Quick had to respect as did the Dman Rod Scuderi. Toews masterfully held the puck til the defenseman went down and made a perfect no look pass to Kane who was flying up the far side and was able to one time it past Quick before he could get over to stop it.

As Jonathan Quick laid with his face on the ice, Chicago moved on to meet their destiny in their second Stanley Cup Finals in three years. For a team that was ripped apart and rebuilt to so soon be back in the finals is a testament to the entire organization, coaches and players.

The stage is now set with an Original Six match up that has not occurred since the 1970’s. In what has been a dramatic season for the Blackhawks and their fans, expect more spectacular moments because this time it will be for all the marbles and you really can say “Because it’s the Cup”.

Three Stars of the game:

1.      Patrick Kane

2.      Duncan Keith

3.      Anze Kopitar

Next game Wednesday, June 12, at 7 p.m. CDT from the United Center in Chicago. Tune in on NBC in the U.S., or CBC and RDS in Canada; or listen in via WGN 720 and 97.9 FM radio.

Follow our Blackhawks team at @TCLBlackhawks; you can follow me at @sportshashhash.