And the award goes to… Chicago Blackhawks vs. Los Angeles Kings, Western Conference Final
Who says the sequel can’t trump the original? When the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings hooked up for the 2014 Western Conference final, it marked the second straight year the teams clashed for a berth in the Cup final. In 2013, Chicago won a tight five-game series. Last spring, it was the Kings who had a chance to close out the Hawks in five. When they failed to do so, the series took a harrowing turn.
While the first four games had their share of fantastic moments, it was really the final three contests that made this one a classic. The Hawks’ desperate push to fight back from a 3–1 series deficit induced some wild back-and-forth action, creating debilitating stress for any fan with a dog in this fight and pure delight for everybody else being treated to some of the best hockey in recent memory. Here are the highlights from each game.
Game 1: L.A. 1 at Chicago 3
With Chicago clinging to a one-goal lead in the third, none other than captain Jonathan Toews finishes a three-on-one break, blasting a beautiful shot over the glove of Los Angeles goalie Jonathan Quick.
Game 2: L.A. 6 at Chicago 2
With the Kings trailing 2–0 in the second, Quick denies Brent Seabrook on a two-on-one. That single save breaks the Hawks’ momentum, stops Chicago from claiming the opening pair on the road and lets L.A’.s offence get into the game.
Game 3: Chicago 3 at L.A. 4
Rookie Tyler Toffoli pounces on a bobbled puck inside the Chicago blueline, dekes Corey Crawford and gives L.A. a second-period lead it never relinquishes. Advantage Kings.
Game 4: Chicago 2 at L.A. 5
Once again, the world gets a frightening reminder of what L.A.’s beast mode looks like, as the Kings blow the doors off Chicago with three goals in the first period.
Game 5: L.A. 4 at Chicago 5 (2OT)
Eight goals and four periods into this game, L.A. finds itself one shot away from a win on home ice and the Stanley Cup final. Then, 2:04 into double-OT, crafty veteran Michal Handzus takes a feed from Brandon Saad, makes a strong move to his backhand and lifts the puck past Quick to keep Chicago in the fight.
Game 6: Chicago 4 at L.A. 3
Patrick Kane hits the offensive zone with just under four minutes left in a tie game. He stops by the right half-wall, glides across the top of the slot and wires a winner past Quick. The crowd goes wild. This thing is going to seven.
Game 7: L.a. 5 at Chicago 4 (OT)
Game seven, overtime: The only way to end a series this thrilling. The Kings have overcome deficits of 2–0, 3–2 and 4–3, tying the game with 7:17 left in the third. The stage is set for Alec Martinez’s point shot 5:47 into the fourth period.