CHICAGO – Patrick Kane scored his third goal of the game 11:40 into the second overtime period and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the defending champion Los Angeles Kings 4-3 to advance to the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday night.
Corey Crawford made 33 saves, and Duncan Keith scored in his return from a suspension as the top-seeded Blackhawks eliminated the Kings in five games in the best-of-seven Western Conference finals.
Chicago will host the Eastern Conference champion Boston Bruins in Game 1 of the best-of-seven Final series Wednesday night.
Boston completed a sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night. This is the first Stanley Cup Final matchup of NHL Original Six franchises since 1979, and it will pit two of the last three champions against each other.
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“I think it’s good for the league. It’s good for hockey,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said of the Final. “Two great hockey markets. We’re very excited to be a part of it.”
Chicago won the Cup in 2010, ending a 49-year drought. Boston won the title the next year.
“Right now I think it’s almost like I’m in a different zone, like in the Twilight Zone or something,” said Kane, calling it the best game of his career. “I’m kind of out of it. It’s definitely a good feeling, though.”
Anze Kopitar and Mike Richards scored in the third period for Los Angeles, which managed to recover after trailing 2-0 in the first period and 3-2 late in regulation. Jonathan Quick finished with 31 saves.
Kane was in the middle of a quiet postseason when he finished off Bryan Bickell’s shot for his third playoff goal in Chicago’s 3-2 victory in Los Angeles on Thursday. The talented forward yelled in relief after that goal.
After Crawford made a couple of big saves in the first overtime, Jonathan Toews carried the puck up the left side during a two-on-one rush in the second extra session. He then made a cross-ice pass to Kane, who one-timed a shot past Quick and into the right side.
“Johnny made a great pass, and I tried to get it off as quick as I could,” Kane said of the winning goal.
The rollicking sellout crowd of 22,237 erupted in joy as Kane skated back toward the middle of the ice and slid on his knees as hats rained down.
A distraught Quick was prone as teammates emptied from the bench for the post-series handshakes.
Chicago was poised to finish off Los Angeles in regulation when the Kings scored the tying goal with 9.4 seconds remaining.
Kopitar took a long shot from the right side and Richards managed to tip it by Crawford, leading to a celebration for the Kings while the crowd groaned in disbelief.
“So emotional,” Kane said of the lost lead. “You start thinking about it when it goes to 14 seconds away from going to the Final. It stuck with us for the first overtime. It was nice to close it out for sure.”
Richards had a goal and an assist in his first game since he took a big hit from Chicago’s Dave Bolland in the series opener, shelving the center with a suspected concussion.
Crawford recovered from the dramatic tying goal and made a couple of nice plays in overtime, using his glove to deny Williams and Jake Muzzin.