The best game of the series, so far, turned out to be one that probably shifts all momentum in the other direction. The Chicago Blackhawks might have been down twice in this game 6, but managed to comeback and pull off a 4-3 win thanks to a dramatic Patrick Kane goal, tying the series at 3-3, coming from two games behind, hosting the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference Final finale to see who goes to play for the Stanley Cup.
Why the best game? It was even, it was dramatic, it had a little bit of violence, and there wasn’t anything certain about it until it was finally over. Patrick Kane and Corey Crawford can take the compliments about saving the season and the chance of a repeat back home with them. Kane made a brilliant assist to Duncan Keith with 11:34 on the clock in the third period to tie the game, and then scored himself, his 8th of the postseason, to seal the win. Crawford, who wasn’t having the best of games up to that point, did just about enough as the Kings sent everyone to try and get the equalizer in the final seconds.
Somehow the Kings have let this one slip away. In a postseason filled with teams coming from behind to turn series upside down, the Kings looked like a team that won’t fall to that fate. They scored first thanks to a lucky bounce (they’ve gotten quite a few of those in this postseason) which allowed Dwight King a wide open shot in front of Crawofrd just before the end of the first period. But the Blackahwks came back.
Both teams didn’t mess up on the Power Plays, scoring on 1-of-2 of them. The Blackhawks got their first goal through Kane on a Power Play, and Ben Smith scoring gave Chicago a 2-1 lead as things got testy near Jonathan Quick’s goal, which led to a rare occurrence of the two goalkeepers meeting each other in the middle of the rink to trade a few words and maybe a few shoves. Not a lot happened in terms of punishment, but the tension was almost visible in the air.
The Kings came back again in a fiery start to the third period: Drew Doughty, who hasn’t been exactly spectacular in this series in terms of his offensive contribution, followed by a Power Play goal by Alec Martinez with Doughty providing the assist. Crawford seemed very vulnerable from long range, and the Kings took advantage of that, to a point. Then Kane and late-game magic happened, while Crawford finally played like a championship team needs its goalie to perform.
The Blackhawks aren’t making things simple. Down two games, they won in double overtime to stay alive, followed by coming back from behind twice to get their first road win in this series with the timing proving to be close to perfect. The Kings might be the better team overall in this series, but momentum and mental fortitude means so much when the differences aren’t that great, and the Blackhakws seem to have it on their side now.
There is the ‘Wow’ factor in this series, especially the last two games. We’ve got two competitive teams that have experience in the situation. It’s been amazing. I mean, as good as it gets. We get the privilege of playing with a guy like that (Kane) every day and seeing what he can do. You know when it comes down to crunch time, him and Johnny Toews, I don’t know if there are two other guys I’d rather have on my team.