LOS ANGELES – Patrick Kane skated to a patch of open ice near the painted Stanley Cup logo and fired a long, low shot at the Los Angeles net, hoping to hit an invisible hole.
Chicago Blackhawks teammates weren’t shocked when he found it.
Kane’s career has been defined by his brilliance in the Blackhawks’ biggest moments, and his tiebreaking goal with 3:45 to play in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals will rank among the best.
“There’s still not much room out there in this series,” Kane said. “Right now, you have to take advantage of your opportunities when you do get space.”
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Kane scored two goals and set up Duncan Keith’s tying score with 8:26 left, and the Blackhawks forced a decisive seventh game with a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Friday night.
After two straight elimination victories, the Blackhawks are heading home with a chance to advance thanks to the forward who saves his best for the brightest lights. Kane had one point in the series’ first four games before scoring seven more in Chicago’s consecutive victories.
“It’s amazing what he can do in these big games when our season is on the line,” Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said of Kane. “Nobody else seems to be able to do it the same way he does.”
Game 7 is in Chicago on Sunday night. The winner gets the New York Rangers, who eliminated Montreal on Thursday night in the East final series.
The defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks avoided elimination for the second straight game in an already memorable playoff series between two powerful teams at the top of their games.
Both teams blew late leads in the third period, and Drew Doughty was primed to be Los Angeles’ hero with a tying goal and a tiebreaking assist on Alec Martinez’s score with 12:22 left. But after Kane took control, Corey Crawford came up with several late saves as Chicago held on.
“We get the privilege of playing with a guy like that every day and seeing what he can do,” Keith said of Kane.
The conference-finals rematch between the NHL’s last two champions will be decided in a winner-take-all Game 7 — the third of the postseason for the Kings, who are 6-0 in elimination games this spring.
Crawford made 26 saves and exchanged harsh words with counterpart Jonathan Quick as the Blackhawks won for the ninth time in their last 11 elimination games.
Chicago trailed 3-1 after its second straight loss at Staples Center on Monday, but the Blackhawks prolonged the series with an epic double-overtime victory in Game 5.