WCF Game 7 - Alec Martinez is the OT hero, sends LA to the Stanley Cup Final
You can't kill 'em, no matter how hard you try.
You can't beat 'em, especially with the season on the line.
The Los Angeles Kings, with their backs up against the wall, will come through every time. They just will.
Onto the Final: LA beats Chicago in Game 7 to advance and play the New York Rangers for the Cup (via ESPN.com)
For the third time in as many series', with their season hanging in the balance, the Los Angeles Kings won Game 7 on the road to advance. They are the first team in NHL history to win three Game 7's in one postseason before the Stanley Cup Final.
In one of the most engaging and enthralling series every played, the Kings and Blackhawks stood toe-to-toe and duked it out again and again over seven intense games, landing what seemed to be knockout blows at times, only to have them countered by the opposing team in timely fashion. With miles and miles of championship experience throughout their lineup, coaching staff and front office, both teams were unwilling to yield and let their season end to such a formidable opponent.
Chicago took Game 1 rather easily, leading many to believe that the 'Hawks were primed to return to the Stanley Cup Final without much resistance.
But the Kings are no pushovers. LA promptly won the next three games, Game 2 in Chicago and Games 3 and 4 at the Staples Center. The tables had turned; now, it was LA who were flexing their muscle and exerting their incredible depth and skill.
And Chicago returned the favor. Facing elimination twice, once at home and again on the road, the Blackhawks reminded those who had cast them off into the off-season already that they were the defending champs. An overtime win in Game 5 forced Game 6 back in LA.
And in Game 6, Patrick "Showtime" Kane happened. You'd expect nothing else from the game's most dangerous sniper and most clutch performer. His two-goal, three-point night propelled the 'Hawks to the victory on the road, setting up the epic Game 7 we saw last night.
Hockey is a cruel game. Grabbing the lead releases the pressure valves on your stomach, heart and brain, but in the back of your mind, you're still weary of a return punch. You hope and pray your team can hold onto the lead as the seconds tick by so slowly you'd swear they weren't moving at all.
The Blackhawks held a lead three times in the game, including a 2-0 lead early in the first period. 12 seconds after the Kings cut it to 2-1, Patrick Sharp flicked a bouncing shot that ricocheted off the ice in front of Jonathan Quick and past the netminder. Bubble burst for any normal team in that situation.
Fast-forward to middle of the third period. The 'Hawks lead 4-3 by way of Sharp's second goal back in the second period. Eight more minutes and it's game over, Chicago back in the Final.
But these are the LA Kings. The cockroaches of professional sports. It ain't over until it reads 0:00 on the clock. And the Kings weren't done.
Marion Gaborik, arguably the greatest deadline acquisition ever depending how the Final goes, netted his 12th goal of these playoffs. Game tied. On we went to overtime.
And just a tick under six minutes played in the extra frame, the Kings worked their magic. Alec Martinez shot the puck on net, taking a deflection off of Chicago defenseman Nick Leddy and past Corey Crawford.
Daggers through the hearts of Blackhawks fans. Shear joy and exhilaration for Kings fans. Game over. Series over. LA advances.
A proper ending for one of the greatest series' the NHL has ever seen. It's too bad it had to end.
Los Angeles Kings @ Chicago Blackhawks: 5 - 4, Los Angeles wins the series 4 - 3