CHICAGO | Deep into a second overtime, Patrick Kane's go-ahead goal propelled the Blackhawks to their second Stanley Cup finals in four seasons Saturday night.
An exhausting, exasperating and ultimately exhilarating marathon culminated with Kane taking a pass from running mate Jonathan Toews to complete a hat trick with 8:20 left in the second overtime. Kane fired the puck past Kings goalie Jonathan Quick to finish the 4-3 victory over the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals.
His goal, his fourth in the last two games, booked a date with the Boston Bruins to open the finals Wednesday night at the United Center. Kane redeemed himself after a host of criticism earlier in the series for his lack of scoring.
“To contribute the last couple of games, any player would be lying to you if he said it wasn’t nice,” Kane said. “We definitely did not want to go back to L.A. (for Game 6).
“Right now it feels like the best (game he ever played). It’s almost like I’m in a different zone, the Twilight Zone. I’m out of it.”
The Hawks operated on something other than energy as the minutes piled up, and the physical Kings refused to quit.
“I think a little bit of adrenalin,” Hawks goalie Corey Crawford said. “Just kind of zoned in. Just grab a little bit of extra to finish off.”
The endless contest resulted from one hockey fact: they play the full 60 minutes in regulation for a good reason.
After Kane tallied his second goal with 3:52 left in the third period to give the Hawks a 3-2 lead, the Kings cashed in when time had almost ticked down in regulation.
Anze Kopitar, who had tied it 2-2 on a power-play goal early in the third, wound up with a shot at Hawks goalie Corey Crawford.
Kings center Mike Richards shook off concussion symptoms with a game-time decision to play. He stationed himself as a screener in front of Crawford. Richards tipped in the shot with just 9.4 seconds to go to send it to overtime.
The tie came about as the Kings steadily seized the aggressive play away from the Hawks, who had come out smoking in the first period. They outshot the Hawks by 10 from the end of the first period through the first overtime.
Kane and defenseman Duncan Keith scored 2 ½ minutes apart early in the first to give the Hawks a seemingly precious 2-0 lead against the playoff-tested Quick.
But the Kings adjusted their play into a higher gear in the second while the Hawks’ pace eased. The Kings benefited when the Hawks’ clunky power play totally broke down midway through, enabling Dwight King to cut the lead in half with a short-handed goal.
Kane’s second goal that seemed headed for the game-winner in regulation came after Bryan Bickell swiped the pick from Justin Williams as they skated behind the net. Bickell passed to Kane, who blasted his shot past Quick.