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Blackhawks rally to force a Game 7; Patrick Kane notches game-winner

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Blackhawks 4, KINGS 3

BLACKHAWKS 0 2 2 — 4

Los Angeles 1 0 2 — 3

First Period—1, Los Angeles, King 2 (Stoll, Williams), 17:03. Penalties — Greene, LA (holding), 13:34.

Second Period—2, HAWKS, Kane 7 (Toews, Seabrook), 1:12 (pp). 3, HAWKS, Smith 4 (Sharp, Seabrook), 2:49. Penalties—Kopitar, LA (holding), :20; Seabrook, HAWKS (interference), 11:57.

Third Period—4, Los Angeles, Doughty 4 (Brown, Richards), 5:32. 5, Los Angeles, Martinez 3 (Doughty), 7:38 (pp). 6, HAWKS, Keith 4 (Kane, Shaw), 11:34. 7, HAWKS, Kane 8 (Saad), 16:15. Penalties—Toews, HAWKS (hooking), 5:55.

Shots on Goal—HAWKS 9-13-3—25. Los Angeles 8-13-8—29.

Power-play opportunities—HAWKS 1 of 2; Los Angeles 1 of 2.

Goalies—HAWKS, Crawford 11-7-0 (29 shots-26 saves). Los Angeles, Quick 11-9-0 (25-21).

Referees—Dave Jackson, Dan OíRourke. Linesmen—Jonny Murray, Shane Heyer.

A—18,471 (18,118). T—2:30.

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Updated: July 1, 2014 6:59AM



LOS ANGELES — As their teammates scuffled around the Kings’ net after the second-period horn, Jonathan Quick and Corey Crawford skated off to their benches. But Quick made a bit of a detour when he saw Crawford standing at the blue line watching the action. He jawed at Crawford and bumped him with his left shoulder.

Crawford barely budged, his face stone cold, mockingly shaking his gloves as if to say, “Let’s go.”

Yes, there’s plenty of fight left in these Blackhawks.

Duncan Keith tied Game 6 of the Western Conference final with 8:26 left, and Patrick Kane — in another virtuoso postseason performance in a career full of them — won it with 3:45 to go as the Hawks once again staved off elimination, beating the Los Angeles Kings 4-3 in a sensational back-and-forth thriller at Staples Center on Friday night.

With their second successive victory on the brink, the Hawks set the stage for a Game 7 showdown at the United Center on Sunday night — winner goes to the Stanley Cup Final. The Kings already have won two Game 7s on the road this postseason and are 6-0 in elimination games. But the Hawks are 13-0 in Games 5-7 since last spring and 5-0 when facing elimination.

“That’s the way the team’s been all year — we don’t give up,” ­Crawford said.

No, the Hawks might be tired. They might be running on fumes, even. They might be up against a team every bit as good — if not better — than they are. But they don’t do moral victories. So with nine minutes left in their Stanley Cup defense, Keith and Kane made the big shots, Crawford made the big stops and a host of other players made big plays to keep the frantic Kings at bay and send the series back to Chicago.

The Hawks might have the most talented roster in the NHL. But in games such as these, games that the Hawks just keep winning, it goes beyond sheer skill and veers into intangible territory. At some point, the indefinable — character, grit, heart — become inescapable.

“That’s what we’re all about,” Keith said. “You’re born with a certain amount of skill, but it’s what you put into it, how much you care. We’ve got a lot of guys that care in this room. Everybody does.”

The Hawks trailed 1-0 after Dwight King’s first-period goal, but seized control in the opening minutes of the second period. First, Kane scored on a give-and-go with Jonathan Toews for the Hawks’ first road power-play goal since Game 1 against St. Louis. Then Ben Smith snuck a shot behind Quick and off his skates for a 2-1 lead.

From there, the game started to resemble Game 5 — a track meet with end-to-end rushes and chances both ways. Crawford was sensational throughout, making 13 stops in the second period alone. But the Kings, every bit as experienced and resilient as the Hawks, weren’t done.

Drew Doughty and Alec Martinez scored less than two minutes apart early in the third to give the Kings a 3-2 lead. But at their most desperate, the Hawks were at their best. Keith scored off a terrific Kane setup at 11:34, then Kane fired through an Andrew Shaw screen at 16:15 to send both teams back to Chicago for a winner-take-all Game 7.

It’s just the latest in a long line of character-revealing victories for these Hawks. It’s about skill, yes. It’s about offense and defense and goaltending and X’s and O’s and everything else. But at some point, it’s about something more, too. Something the Hawks have found, and something the Kings will have to find yet again.

“We’re just willing our way to getting those bounces and getting those chances,” Toews said. “If you want it bad enough, you can will your way to getting things to go your way. We’re doing that right now.”

Email: mlazerus@suntimes.com

Twitter: @MarkLazerus



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