Kane still sizzling as Hawks win 4-3, force Game 7 - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Kane still sizzling as Hawks win 4-3, force Game 7

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One of the best playoff series of all time will end as it should with a Game 7 at the United Center on Sunday. Because on Friday night the Chicago Blackhawks wouldn’t be denied and captured Game 6 in Los Angeles 4-3. These two teams are evenly matched and this series has been one giant commercial for the NHL.

The Kings have been perfect this season in two previous series by winning Game 7 versus San Jose and Anaheim. The Blackhawks are a perfect 13-0 in Games 5, 6, and 7 since last year. Los Angeles is looking to become the first team to win three seven-game series and advance to the Stanley Cup Final. No matter how one parses the numbers, something has to give in Game 7.

The Hawks outplayed Los Angeles for much of the opening frame but ended up trailing by a goal. In an odd sequence, where Corey Crawford looked as if he was going to play the puck behind the net but didn’t, the result was a Dwight King goal. Brent Seabrook hesitated and every Chicago player on the ice was caught flat-footed as King was left wide open in the slot. The goal could have deflated the Blackhawks as if took place at the 17:03 mark but they rebounded nicely.

The second period began with a burst from the Hawks. Patrick Kane continued to shine as the best player on the ice and he connected with an assist from Jonathan Toews for a power play goal. After scoring just 72 seconds into the period, Ben Smith dented the twine less than two minutes later. So in a flash the Hawks took the lead but the Kings steadied and then came on.

Smith has been a very reliable player for Joel Quenneville as he is used in all important situations. On the goal Smith lost control of the puck but didn’t panic. He held on and banked the puck in off of Jonathan Quick from behind the goal line. As has been the case all series the Kings were not done.

The Hawks played a really good opening five minutes of the third frame but then things quickly changed.

Sheldon Brookbank was in for Kris Versteeg and was on defense. Brookbank failed to clear the puck and Drew Doughty took advantage of the miscue. Doughty scored on a wrist shot from between the circles as Mike Richards screened Crawford.

The Kings had a head of steam and scored again two minutes and six seconds later on an Alec Martinez wrist shot. As has been the case the Kings defensemen were given too much time and space. Martinez shot the puck past a falling Seabrook who missed a block and then it went through Crawford’s five hole. Los Angeles grabbed the lead in familiar fashion as another defenseman scored from the top of the faceoff circle, in the high slot area.

All the momentum was on the Kings side and one had to wonder if this was the end of the Blackhawks season. The Kings are very good, but they don’t have a Patrick Kane and it was showtime for the Hawks young superstar once again.

Kane has incredible endurance and is able to skate and hold onto the puck until a teammate gets open or he finds a shooting lane.

On the Blackhawks third tally Kane held the puck and then made a beautiful pass to Duncan Keith who finally converted a scoring chance. Keith beat Quick with a short side goal to even the score at three.

For the fourth goal Kane was on with his new linemates, Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw. The trio had another big night and this time their work led to the game winner.

Kane circled with the puck because he had no options. As the Kings chased him Saad and Shaw went to the net. Kane finally found a shooting lane as Shaw was set up like a wall in front of Quick. Kane made no mistake so the Hawks live to fight another day.

To say the Hawks missed Shaw earlier in this series would be big understatement. Since returning from injury Shaw has done a great job of doing the dirty work in front of Quick. Shaw can set a good screen and has been able to bother Quick but hasn’t taken any bad penalties. Saad has played his best hockey of the season since being united with Shaw, and Kane has been electric.

Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp continue to be snakebit. Sharp is getting chances but can’t convert. Toews and Hossa were very strong versus the Anze Kopitar line and outplayed them Friday night. Chicago also had the edge in faceoffs with a 51 percent winning rate.

The Blackhawks have their stars making big plays and they have found the right mix to play well while facing Los Angeles. A big difference lately is when the Hawks fall behind, the Kings have not been able to extend their lead by more than one goal. The Hawks have stuck to their structure and haven’t been chasing the play after falling behind.

The Chicago team defense has been much better and with a strong performance in Game 7 the Blackhawks could make a return appearance to the Stanley Cup Final.

If one were to believe in momentum they would probably conclude the Hawks will be an easy winner on Sunday night. This series has been anything but typical and the Kings are past Cup winners that will bring a solid effort. So thinking this series is all but over may be a bit premature.

If the Blackhawks keep getting a similar performance from their newly formed second line the Kings season may be over on Sunday. But one can’t forget, the Kings second line could easily come back to life and have a big say in the outcome.

If Crawford can outplay Quick one more time the advantage swings toward the Blackhawks. Once again the Hawks weren’t denied in an elimination game, and scored two goals on only three shots in the third period. Crawford slammed the door shut as the Kings stormed the Hawks net in the final seconds.

This has been an epic series and my hope is the officiating doesn’t determine the outcome and a good goal wins Game 7. If ever there was a series when neither team deserved to lose this would be it.

I will be back on Monday morning and you can follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia.

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