The Chicago Blackhawks displayed the heart of a champion Friday night to overcome a third-period deficit in Game 6 and force a decisive Game 7 of the Western Conference final against the Los Angeles Kings.
The Kings remain confident, though. Even after blowing a 3-1 series lead, Los Angeles should be comfortable in a Game 7 on the road because it’s a situation the team has thrived in several times. The Kings have won their last six elimination games, including Game 7 victories on the road in the first two rounds of this year’s playoffs.
Chicago also has dominated late in playoff series. The defending champs are 13-0 in Games 5, 6 and 7 since the start of the 2013 postseason.
Which of these resilient teams will earn a date with the New York Rangers in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final? Check NESN.com’s Game 7 preview and find out.
Sunday, June 1 at 8:00 p.m. ET. TV: NBC Sports Network
Player To Watch For Chicago: Patrick Kane
Kane was absent for the first four games (one point), but he’s been almost unstoppable in the last two matchups with two goals and five assists. He scored two goals in Game 6 — including the game-winner late in the third period — and set up the tying goal with a pretty pass to Duncan Keith.
Kane has played in 24 elimination games in his career with the Blackhawks. The team is 20-4 in those games, and he’s tallied 30 points (15 goals, 15 assists). Chicago has played 30 Game 5, 6 and 7s in Kane’s career, and the team is 26-4 with Kane posting 37 points (19 goals, 18 assists) in those games.
It doesn’t get more clutch than that.
Player To Watch For Los Angeles: Justin Williams
Williams has played in six career Game 7s, and he’s never lost. His six goals in Game 7s are the second-most in league history, and his 12 points rank first among active players. He’s scored a goal in five of the six Game 7s he’s played. Williams has a goal and two assists over the two Game 7s that Los Angeles has played this postseason, and there’s no reason to believe the veteran winger will fail to give a quality performance Sunday night.
Goaltender Matchup: Jonathan Quick (LAK) vs. Corey Crawford (CHI)
Jonathan Quick’s reputation as a premier playoff goalie has taken a hit in this year’s playoffs, specifically in the West final. He’s given up a combined nine goals over the last two games with an overall series save percentage of .886. Despite his struggles, Kings fans shouldn’t be concerned about their starting netminder. Quick is 3-0 with a .957 save percentage in his Game 7 career, and he’s 6-0 with a .956 save percentage in six elimination games this postseason.
Crawford bounced back from a bad Game 5 with a spectacular performance in Game 6. He made 26 saves and stood tall in the third period after the Kings fell behind 4-3 with just under four minutes left in regulation. He’s 1-1 with a .956 save percentage in two career Game 7s. His most recent Game 7 was in last year’s Western Conference semifinals against the Detroit Red Wings on home ice. That victory gave Chicago its first series triumph after trailing 3-1.
Prediction: Blackhawks win 3-2 in overtime