CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 01: Dustin Brown #23 of the Los Angeles Kings poses with the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl after defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 5 to 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. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
The Los Angeles Kings are no strangers to the rigors of Game 7 play, but on Sunday night they even outdid themselves with their performance in a 5-4 overtime victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.
For starters, the Kings won their third Game 7 of the postseason, with all of the victories coming on the road. The Kings are the first team to ever accomplish that feat, and they did it in some of the toughest road environments imaginable. The Kings’ two wins in this series at the United Center were the only times during the postseason that Chicago lost on home ice, and both victories were impressive to say the least.
In addition to the Kings simply winning and advancing to the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in three years, they also extended the remarkable run that Justin Williams finds himself on during Game 7’s in his career. The Kings forward is now 7-0 when he plays in a Game 7, and he has seven goals and seven assists in those contests. He picked up the primary assist on the game-winning goal by Alec Martinez, and he also scored a goal in the first period that tied the game at 2-2.
The Kings also got yet another great performance out of Marian Gaborik, who scored the game-tying goal in the third period. The tally was Gaborik’s ninth of the postseason, and it positions him to make a run at the Conn Smythe Trophy if the Kings end up winning the title. Anze Kopitar will also be in that discussion, and even though he wasn’t a huge presence in this game (he had a secondary assist on Gaborik’s goal), he still contributed, winning 16 face-offs against the Blackhawks.
Speaking of big-time performances, captain Dustin Brown was in top form in this game as well. He had two assists in the game, with primary helpers on Jeff Carter’s first period tally and Gaborik’s game-tying score in the third period, and he also racked up eight shots on goal and three hits in the game. He had largely been held in check during the early stages of the series, but he really stepped up his game in a big way even as his team was dropping contests, and that ended up making a huge difference for the Kings as they advanced.
Finally, the Kings’ youngsters had themselves a good game as well. Tanner Pearson was a constant thorn in the Hawks’ side as he racked up three shots on goal and five attempted shots total. Tyler Toffoli scored a key goal and added an assist in the game in just 13:02 of ice time. Martinez’s game-winning goal was his second in two games, and the 26-year old stepped up his game when the team needed him the most.
Add to that mix Darryl Sutter becoming the winningest Game 7 coach in league history (his seventh win is the most all-time in Game 7 play), and it’s easy to see why the Kings should be proud of what they accomplished by winning this series. The team has made it a point of bouncing back every time they’ve been punched in the postseason, and the defending champions landed some serious blows throughout the series.
Both of these teams really respect each other, and the odds are strong that their paths will cross again in the playoffs sooner rather than later. This time it was the Kings ending up on time, and they absolutely earned their berth in the final round of the postseason.