The Chicago Blackhawks beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-3 in double overtime on Saturday to win the Western Conference title and join the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final.
The Kings, last season’s NHL champions, had tied the game with just 10 seconds left in regulation, but Patrick Kane completed his hat-trick with the winning goal at 11 minutes, 40 seconds of the second overtime period.
Chicago, who won the Presidents’ Trophy for scoring the most points in the regular season, will host the Stanley Cup opener on Wednesday at the United Center.
Kane took a pass from Jonathan Toews on a two-on-one breakaway and rifled the puck past Kings netminder Jonathan Quick to seal the Blackhawks place in the final against Boston, who swept Pittsburgh 4-0 to win the East.
“I knew it was coming as soon as he picked up the puck,” Kane said of the winning goal. “Johnny made a great pass and I just tried to get it off as quick as I could.”
Kane’s second, which put Chicago 3-2 up with less than four minutes to play in the third period, looked set to be the winner, but the Kings stunned the home crowd when Mike Richards found the net with less than 10 seconds left on the clock.
Kane said the Blackhawks struggled to regain their momentum after the late Kings goal.
“That was so emotional, you start thinking about that when it goes in, you’re 14 seconds away from going to the finals and I think that kind of stuck with us for that first overtime,” Kane said.
“They had the momentum after that point, but for us to stick with it in the first overtime and end up winning the game, it’s just huge. We didn’t have the same jump, but after we got over it, it was nice to close it out for sure,” he added.
The Stanley Cup Final will pit 2010 winners Chicago against 2011 champions Boston.
Andrew Shaw said the Blackhawks would soak in the win, but already had their minds on the Bruins.
“It’s unbelievable, it’s surreal, it’s been a dream of mine since I was a little kid, but all the excitement in the room, we have got to compose that,” Shaw said. “We have a big series ahead of us with a great team. The boys are going to bring the intensity and energy we had tonight, and it’s going to be a great series.”
Chicago got off to the best possible start, defenseman Duncan Keith sending in a long-range shot that sneaked between Quick’s pads after less than four minutes.
One of the league’s top netminders, Quick was beaten again two minutes later when Kane scrambled the puck home for his first goal of the night, but the Kings would not go down without a fight and they got a shorthanded goal from Dwight King midway through the second period, before Anze Kopitar put the puck away on a power play early in the third to tie the score at 2-2.