Kings Beat Blackhawks to Advance to Stanley Cup Finals
With the NHL Western Conference Finals between the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks and the Los Angeles Kings tied at three games apiece, the seventh and deciding game went down to the wire. Actually, it went past the wire and into overtime, until defenseman Alec Martinez scored the game winning goal at 5:47 into the extra period to win the game and the series for Los Angeles. The Kings advanced to the Finals for the second time in three years; they won it all in 2012.
The Blackhawks had the Kings on the ropes early, jumping off to a 2-0 lead. But L.A. got right back in it, scoring the next two goals to tie it before Chicago took the lead again. The Kings tied the score three times, but never led until the winning goal was scored.
Dogged determination has marked the Kings’ Cup run this season. In their opening series, the Kings were down 3-0 against San Jose, but won four straight to advance. They were also down 3-2 to Anaheim—after leading the series 2-0—before rallying and taking Game 7 of that series in Anaheim. After beating the Blackhawks, Los Angeles became the first team ever to win three series in seven games to advance to the Finals.
Los Angeles will now face the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup Finals, with the opener in L.A. on June 4th. This is the Rangers’ first appearance in the finals since they won the Cup back in 1994. They’ve had their share of seven game series in this post season as well, beating Philadelphia and Pittsburg in seven before beating Montreal in six games. The Kings and Rangers split their two regular season games, but haven’t played each other since November 17th. On paper, this looks like an even match between two teams with stingy defenses and good goaltending. We think the Kings will take the Cup based on their comeback ability, plus the fact that most of the players have been to the Finals before and L.A. has home ice advantage. We would not be surprised to see this series go to seven games as well in the culmination of what has been an exciting playoff schedule.