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The Reign Is Over: Kings Beat Blackhawks In Game 7

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jun 2, 2014 1:30PM

The city is still standing which is a good thing. Chicago isn’t Vancouver or some college town with a powerhouse football team. We need to act as though one of our sports teams has won a championship before and, after a brief shock on social media that’s exactly what happened after the Los Angeles Kings stunned the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals and ending any hopes of another ticker tape parade for the Hawks later this month. The vanquished champions have plenty of time this summer to look at what went wrong.

Give the Kings credit; they’re a playoff-tested squad and re-tooled their roster specifically with winning a Stanley Cup in mind. And they won a third straight Game 7 on the road to earn a trip to the Finals, where they’ll face the New York Rangers. But the Blackhawks have a few questions to answer heading into the offseason, starting with whether to keep the team urologist aboard since the team has a shocking ability to piss away a lead.

Brandon Saad put the Hawks up 1-0 five minutes into the first period with a sweet snap shot, assisted by his linemates Patrick Kane and Andrew Shaw. Jonathan Toews made the score 2-0 at the 8:36 mark with a power play goal and it the United Center faithful looked primed to cheer the Hawks on to the Finals. But the resilient Kings bounced back and tied the game with goals by Jeff Carter and Justin Williams before Patrick Sharp, largely absent this series, made the score 3-2 with a shot, assisted by Marcus Kruger.

The Kings outshot the Blackhawks 11 to 7 in the first period but the way Chicago was finding net on goalie Jonathan Quick signaled good things heading into the second period. Whoops. Tyler Toffoli tied the game midway through the second with a wrist shot and Quick composed himself to turn away Blackhawks rushes. Then Sharp put the Hawks back in the lead with 1:35 remaining in the period on this power play goal.

Had the game ended there the United Center crowd would have gone home happy. But the Kings didn't quit and Marian Gaborik tied the game with 7:17 remaining in what was a busy and exciting third period.

Blackhawks fans across the city began crossing themselves and clutching whatever lucky charms they had on hand as the two teams headed into overtime. But the Kings played spoiler when Alec Martinez, in a nice scrum in front of the Hawks net, managed to deflect the puck off Nick Leddy and past goalie Corey Crawford for the win and a ticket to the Finals.

What really makes this loss tough to handle is the Blackhawks were able to play their offensive game for large stretches and dictate the tempo. Los Angeles was able to weather the surges and fight back with depth and physicality. The Hawks were stunned after, knowing they couldn't hold three leads. Coach Joel Quennevile said, "I've lost some tough games, but nothing like tonight." Toews said the team was trying to cope with the loss.

"There's no consolation for a loss like that," Toews said. "What can you say? We have a heck of a group in there. It's tough to lose. It's hard to admit to ourselves this season is over. Not a good feeling especially given the circumstances, how hard we fought, how badly we wanted to win this year. It's impressive. Top to bottom, we've got a lot of talent. I think we've got more character than anything. I could go on and on about that all day. Tough way to go down."