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Blackhawks Force Game 7 With Kane's Resurgent Play

By Chuck Sudo in News on May 31, 2014 2:30PM

I predicted this Western Conference Finals series between the Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings would go the full seven games. Thanks to the goaltending of Corey Crawford and a resurgent Patrick Kane, the Hawks have a chance to punch a return ticket to the Stanley Cup Finals after a thrilling 4-3 win Friday night at the Staples Center. Earning a chance to defend the Cup will not be easy; the Kings have gone the distance in their previous two series and won each Game 7 on the road.

If Kane can continue his play from Games 5 and 6, the Hawks stand a good chance. Coach Joel Quenneville's decision to put Kane on a line with Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw freed Kane on the ice and allowed him to to what he does best—find ways to score and set up his teammates for quick goals.

After Dwight King put LA up 1-0 with 2:57 remaining in the first period, Kane tied the score 1:12 into the second period on a nifty power play goal.

Ben Smith gave Chicago the lead a little more than a minute later as the two teams picked up the pace. Crawford and Jonathan Quick had a little episode as the horn sounded to end the period. Shaw tried to intimidate Quick by toppling over him,leading to a scrum in front of the Kings net. Crawford let Quick know he was willing to drop gloves.

The incident seemed to light a fire under the resilient Kings as the third period began. Drew Doughty tied the score at 2 with a wrist shot at the 5:32 mark and took a 3-2 lead on a power play goal by Alec Martinez. The Kings seemed to have the momentum and were shutting down Chicago but the Hawks came back when Kane set up a nice goal by Duncan Keith to tie the game at the 11:34 mark. The game looked set to head into overtime when Kane took a pass from Saad and created a highlight reel moment.

Give Kane some space and he'll improvise. That tasty bit of skating and finding the screen from Shaw put the Hawks ahead. Crawford shut down the Kings the rest of the way. Chicago only had three shots on goal in the third period but made them count. Kane tried to deflect the praise after the game.

"You try to take it upon yourself to try and step up in big situations," Kane said. "But we have a lot of guys that do that. I think with our team and the amount of great players that are on it, it seems like everyone has their time to step up and have the spotlight and be in that moment. There's been numerous guys that have done it. When it's your turn, it's always fun to contribute."

Look for an intense and physical contest Sunday when the two teams take the United Center ice Sunday. Puck drop is at 7 p.m. (NBC Sports Network; WGN Radio AM 720)