The Los Angeles Kings put together a third-period surge that, in many ways, should have been the death knell of not only the Chicago Blackhawks‘ season, but also their reign as Stanley Cup champions. Instead, moments after Duncan Keith tied Friday night’s Game 6 of the Western Conference Final at 3-3, Patrick Kane gave the Blackhawks the lead for good as Chicago forced a Game 7 Sunday night in Chicago.
It appears Kane simply isn’t going to let the Blackhawks lose, at least not without carrying the team to the total limit of what it can accomplish as it tries to repeat as Stanley Cup champs. Since the Kings won their third straight game in the series to take a 3-1 edge in games, Kane has lit up Los Angeles for two goals and five assists and been the number-one star in both games. He had four helpers in Chicago’s 5-4, double-overtime win in Game 5, then added two goals and an assist Friday. In short, Kane has been involved in seven of Chicago’s last nine goals, all scored while the team was facing elimination.
Any questions about Kane’s ability to lead a team and come through in the clutch should be long-since answered, from his Cup-clinching overtime goal against Philadelphia in 2010, to his performance Friday. He doesn’t get the press or the attention that comes to Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, but as usual of late with those teams, neither one is still playing. Chicago is trying to win its third Stanley Cup in five years, which in this salary-cap/free-agency era, practically counts as a dynasty.
And Kane has been there for all of it, assisting on the game winner in Game 5 and scoring it on a shot from the slot through traffic in Game 6. Chicago’s core of offense from Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, etc., isn’t thought of in the same way as rosters like the Pittsburgh Penguins, but you can’t argue their results. Kane now has eight goals and 10 assists this postseason in 18 games. His goals Friday were his first of this series and they couldn’t have come at a better time for the Blackhawks and their fans.
It can be said that the Los Angeles Kings missed a golden opportunity Friday night, ahead in the third period with the series almost won and a trip to the final against the New York Rangers just minutes away. But perhaps, Patrick Kane and the Blackhawks simply took it away. Going back to the 2009-10 playoff year, the Hawks are now an astounding 20-2 in Game 5s and 6s. They are 1-1 in Game 7s. But the Blackhawks will be at home, where they are 8-1 this postseason (the only loss was to Los Angeles in Game 2 of this series).
Sure, the Kings might steal it, but the Kings don’t have Patrick Kane, so don’t bet on it.