L.A Kings stun Blackhawks to reach Stanley Cup

The Los Angeles Kings celebrate defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 in overtime in Game Seven to...

The Los Angeles Kings celebrate defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 in overtime in Game Seven to win the Western Conference Final in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at United Center on June 1, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. (Justin Heiman/Getty Images/AFP)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 12:24 AM ET

CHICAGO - If life was fair, there would be a Game 8.

But it's not.

Not for the Chicago Blackhawks, anyway.

There will be no curtain call for their starring role in some of the most compelling theatre in recent NHL history, just a long summer of wishing they had done just a little bit more.

That seems ridiculous to ask, even of themselves, after they spent every ounce of energy in a seven-game Western Conference war of wills with the Los Angeles Kings. But what they gave, as painful as it is to accept, wasn't good enough.

Not against a relentless powerhouse like Los Angeles, a team that kept coming at them like the Terminator, walking through bullet after bullet after bullet until Chicago had nothing left in the chamber.

That's when the Kings delivered their own kill shot -- an Alec Martinez goal 5:47 into overtime to win a 5-4 Game 7 classic that ended Chicago's run as champion and sent Los Angeles to the Stanley Cup final for the second time in three years.

"It's kind of hard to put everything into words right now," said L.A. veteran Anze Kopitar. "Deep down we definitely felt we could do this. Coming from behind the whole game, being in a loud rink. Chicago's playing good. To get it done really shows the character we have in this room and that really is priceless.

"I don't know what to say anymore. We kept battling. It was not easy out there. We had to kill a 5-on-3, a bunch of 5-on-4s, kudos to everybody in here."

The Kings trailed 2-0 in the first, 3-2 in the second and 4-3 in the third, but refused to even consider not winning this thing.

"We never thought we weren't going to do it," said defenceman Drew Doughty. "We believe we were a better team than they were this year. Last year I felt like their team was a little bit better but this year we felt like we were the better team.

"We were just never going to let that go away, we were always going to believe that we could come back, that we could win. We never gave up."

The Hawks were understandably despondent. Three leads on home ice in Game 7? Chicago never loses this game.

"Really disappointing," said defenceman Duncan Keith. "You don't get this far, to Game 7, one shot, one goal away from going to play for the Cup. It's just really disappointing, I don't know what else to say.

"It seemed like obviously we gave up a lot of leads this series You go back to Game 2, we had the lead going into the third. I don't know. We played hard, but it just seemed like obviously you've got to give L.A. a lot of credit, they were resilient and never gave up. In Game 7, overtime, anything can happen."

According to the numbers heading into this game, neither side was going to lose -- the Hawks were 13-0 in Games 5 through 7 over the last two post-seasons the Kings were 6-0 when facing elimination this year - and that's how they played.

Like nobody was leaving this building without a ticket to the final.

After fans at the United Center shook the rafters during the Star-Spangled Banner, the Hawks took over from there, turning the volume to 11 with two quick goals from Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews at 5:08 and 8:36.

But the Kings showed what they were made silencing the road on goals from Jeff Carter and Justin Williams before the series that wouldn't let you breathe saw Patrick Sharp make it 3-2 Hawks just 12 seconds later.

It was hardly a goaltending battle -- five goals on the first 13 shots -- but it was incredible drama.

After Tyler Toffoli made it 3-3, Sharp made it 4-3 and with the Hawks 7:17 away from the Cup final, Marian Gaborik forced overtime, where Martinez finally won it.

After 5 and 6, it seemed impossible for Game 7 to live up to the billing, but it did.

"That was an amazing series, it really was," said Doughty. "It's even better that we won it, obviously, but that was just a hard fought battle out there.

"Both teams played pretty honest, there wasn't any diving, there wasn't guys cheating, It was just an honest series. Battles in the corners. A lot of goals. There was everything in this series. It was a lot of fun. I hope the next series can feel the same way."


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