This Western Conference Title Bout rematch went beyond the distance, and in the end it was the Los Angeles Kings who won it on a 7th Round sudden-death knockout punch delivered by defenseman Alec Martinez.
Martinez’s timely strike instantly earned his Kings a berth in the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Kings’ punishment for not deposing the ‘Hawks at home in Game 6 was having to play this contest tonight, and now they can breathe a huge sigh of relief that the penalty was rendered irrelevant.
However before the Kings could do little more than settle in, they were already looking up from the bottom of a 2-0 hole courtesy of the play-making dynamo known as Patrick Kane.
Kane set up the first two ‘Hawks goals, assisting on both Brandan Saad’s and Jonathan Toews’ tallies before the nine minutes mark. But the persistent Kings fought back valiantly to tie the game with two straight scores of their own from Jeff Carter and Justin Williams.
A dozen seconds after Williams tied it for L.A., Patrick Sharp untied it for Chicago to send his squad into the 1st intermission with a 3-2 lead. In the 2nd Tyler Toffoli re-tied it for L.A., before Sharp re-untied it for Chicago to send his squad into the 2nd intermission with a 4-3 lead. (That may very well be the first time I’ve ever experienced deja vu while writing a single paragraph.)
With 7:17 left in the 3rd, the Kings’ Marian Gaborik evened the score at four.
It was Gaborik’s goal that sent the game into overtime before Martinez ended the series with his.
They say that defense wins Championships, but I guess that doesn’t count when neither team plays any.
And anyway, when the horn sounds nobody cares how few or how many goals were scored; only that their team ends up with at least one more.
There is nothing greater to watch in sports than an NHL playoff Game 7 overtime; as it’s almost impossible for them to disappoint. Tonight’s game was the exclamation point on a fantastic series that, when all is said and done, may end up being better than the Cup Finals themselves.
And those Stanley Cup Finals are now set. They’ll start with Game 1 Wednesday night when the New York Rangers pay California a visit to face-off against these Kings.