CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said he would have "no frill" in his pregame speech. Patrick Sharp scoffed at the idea of being nervous.
What the Blackhawks bottled up in emotion before the game, they let loose Sunday night during Game 7 of the Western Conference finals.
They didn't go down without a fight.
In a series that has been filled with more unbelievable twists and turns than a soap opera, it was only fitting that the game was decided in overtime, the Kings a 5-4 winner on a Tyler Toffoli goal.
The Kings became the first NHL team to win three Game 7s on the road in the playoffs, and advanced to their second Stanley Cup Final in three seasons.
After so many magical victories by the Blackhawks, who had fought back from a 3-1 deficit behind the efforts of Patrick Kane to force Game 7, the Kings had the last big play.
A Kings goal by Alec Martinez slipped behind goalie Corey Crawford after the puck bounced off of Hawks' defenseman Nick Leddy at the 14:13 mark, and the Hawks' bid to repeat as Stanley Cup champions was denied.
This was the first conference finals Game 7 overtime since 1994.
Marian Gaborik tied the game for the Kings 4-4 with 7 minutes, 17 seconds left in regulation.
Jonathan Quick came up with a spectacular save on Andrew Shaw with 5.3 seconds to keep the Kings' hope alive.
The Hawks took a 4-3 lead in to the third period as they battle the Kings for a chance to defend their Stanley Cup championship with a victory.
The Hawks came up with some timely and tricky goals.
Sharp, who had been silent much of the playoffs, scored his second goal of the night.
He scored on a power-play goal off an assist from Brandon Saad late in the second period for the one-goal lead.
The Kings had tied the game 3-3 on a Toffoli rebound after it was deflected by Hawks' Michal Handzus.
The Kings committed four penalties in the second period. The Hawks failed to score on a 5-on-3 opportunity.
Saad provided more evidence that this line with Kane and Andrew Shaw is working beautifully. He demanded the puck from Kane behind the net and Saad knocked it past Kings goalie Jonathan Quick on a tough angle.
Jonathan Toews provided a 2-0 cushion on a rebound off a Kane shot on the power play.
The Kings answered with back-to-back goals by Jeff Carter and Justin Williams to tie the game.
But 12 seconds after Williams scored, Sharp shot a bouncing puck past Quick for the 3-2 lead.
(c)2014 Chicago Tribune
Visit the Chicago Tribune at www.chicagotribune.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services