Los Angeles Kings at Chicago Blackhawks – LAK win 5-4 (OT), LAK win series 4-3
It’s overly simplistic, but each team needed their goalie to bring their best game of the series on Sunday night in order for either of their respective teams to get to Stanley Cup Finals. It’s simplistic because it’s an easy way out; most games are decided by the quality of the play of the goaltenders. What’s different about this series is that it features two goalies who have won a Stanley Cup in the last two years. More than that, Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick came in to the game with an .886 save percentage so far in this series. Chicago’s Corey Crawford has been just as bad with an .884 save percentage in Western Conference Finals. With both goalies underperforming, whichever of the two who could actually come through for their team would be in line for another Stanley Cup Final visit.
There were five goals on 18 shots in less than twelve minutes and thirty seconds of play in the first period. Not that both goalies were to blame for all the goals, but each goalie had their bad moments. Crawford kicked a puck in the air on a soft shot that Jeff Carter batted out of the air to cut the Blackhawks lead in half to 2-1. Just twelve seconds after the Kings tied the game 2-2, Patrick Sharp scored on a bouncing shot from not a very good angle that skipped over Quick’s right pad and in. Quick also got caught going side to side on a bank shot from Brandon Saad that resulted in Chicago’s first goal in the first period. For two former Stanley Cup-winning goalies that both game into this game with a save percentage under .890, a period of .722 goaltending is what the two teams got combined.
The Kings needed a third period goal with less than eight minutes on the clock to even the score at 4-4 in the third. A shot by Kings defenseman Alec Martinez that deflected off defenseman Nick Leddy’s arm and past Corey Crawford 5:47 into the first overtime to lift the Kings to the Stanley Cup Final.
This was a game where both teams took their chances flooding the net. The Hawks started fast but the Kings finished the first period strong. Chicago came out firing in the second and kept up the pressure for most of the period. Los Angeles controlled the play for most of the third. The big names for either team – Jonathan Toews, Sharp (twice), Marian Gaborik, and Justin “Game 7” Williams – all scored for the teams. It was a game where the skill from both sides controlled the flow at different points. This gave the goalies, who fittingly finished with a combined .871 save percentage in this game, a pretty high workload.
Los Angeles scored five goals in this game and it gave the Jeff Carter/Tyler Toffoli/Tanner Pearson trio combined for 11 goals in these seven games. More than that, though, they got a goal from the first line, two from the second, one from the third, and an overtime winner from a defenseman. That kind of depth is tough to match up against. One of the few teams that could really push Los Angeles like this was Chicago and they made it an incredibly fun series to watch.
Patrick Kane finished the series with two goals and eight assists in the final four games. Jeff Carter had five goals and six assists in seven games. He finished Game 7 with a CorsiFor of 72.2-percent. He was on the ice for just ten shot attempts against in 18 minutes of even strength time.
With his goal and assist, Justin Williams now has the most points (14) in career Game 7 games in NHL history.