LOS ANGELES -- It turns out there was a rationale behind the calm and cool demeanor the Chicago Blackhawks displayed over the last week or so while the end of their season stared them squarely in the face.
There is no quit in this team.
The defending Stanley Cup champions proved that once again when they traveled to the hostile environs of Staples Center in Los Angeles on Friday night and skated away with a scintillating 4-3 victory over the Kings in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals.
The triumph was the Hawks' second consecutive in the series when facing elimination and tied the best-of-seven slate at 3-3 with Game 7 scheduled for Sunday night at the United Center.
"I don't think anything motivates you like having your back against the wall and potentially walking into a game where your season might end," captain Jonathan Toews said. "Every single guy in this room thinks about that, lets it sink in a little bit and realizes how great this opportunity is.
"We worked very hard to get here and you don't want to let it just slip away. We thought about that the last few days and worked very hard to get back in this series."
Patrick Kane continued his amazing run of clutch goals with the game-winner late in the third period as the Hawks denied the Kings a date with the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup finals and kept alive their own hopes of becoming the first team since the 1998 Red Wings to repeat as Cup champions.
Kane, whose exploits are becoming too numerous to list in one report, downplayed his latest when he held the puck while traversing the width of the ice looking for a sliver of a shooting lane. When he finally found it, Kane flipped it through traffic past Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick to complete the Hawks rally from a third-period deficit to remain in the hunt.
"You try to take it upon yourself to step up in big situations," Kane said. "But we have a lot of guys who do that. When it's your turn, it's fun to contribute."
Kane's teammates were having none of that modesty.
"It's unbelievable," Toews said. "I looked at him, I think it was about a minute left (and) ... there was a stoppage of play and I almost started laughing. What he can do in these big games, when our season is on the line and nobody else seems to be able to do it the same way he does it, it's pretty amazing."
Also amazing was how the Hawks are able to keep finding ways to do the remarkable when it appears all is lost. Every NHL team has talent, but the Hawks possess something that few others have: remarkable will.
"We're just willing our way to getting those bounces and getting those chances right now," Toews said. "If you want it bad enough you can will your way to getting things to go your way."
Things went the Hawks' way even though they coughed up a 2-1 lead early in the third when Drew Doughty and Alec Martinez scored to put the Kings in front -- 8 minutes, 26 seconds away from advancing to the finals. It was then Duncan Keith took a pass from Kane, naturally, and beat Quick to tie it and set up Kane's heroics.
Kane and Ben Smith had scored earlier to erase an early Kings lead off a Dwight King score and Hawks goaltender Corey Crawford and Quick exchanged big save after big save.
When the final horn sounded, it was Crawford and the Hawks who were celebrating and the Kings searching for answers with Game 7 looming.
"We have faith in ourselves," Keith said. "We have good players who can put the puck in the net and we've done it all season long (and) we've done it in years past. We've been able to find ways.
"We're excited (but) nothing's done yet -- we understand that," Keith added. "We've given ourselves the opportunity to play in that Game 7, to have a chance to move on. We're going to ... give it everything we have on Sunday."
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