Chicago forced a Game 6 with a 5-4 double-overtime win over the Kings Wednesday night. (L.A. Kings Facebook)
Game 5 played out exactly like Game 2. The Chicago Blackhawks took a 2-0 lead, then lost it. However, the end result was much different, keeping the Blackhawks in the playoffs – at least for one more game. The Blackhawks overpowered the kings in a 5-4 win to bring the series to 3-2.
The normally stout Los Angeles Kings broke early, allowing two early goals to put them behind. Jarret Stoll would grab one back for the kings before the Blackhawks grabbed another one to make it 3-1 in the first period. The Kings weren’t finished in the first period as Marian Gaborik scored his NHL playoff-leading 11th goal. Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford would exit the end of the first period visibly frustrated, was this to be an exact replica of Game 2?
The Kings would completely dominate the second period, scoring two goals to take a 4-3 lead into the third. Ben Smith and the Blackhawks would tie it up early in the third to force perhaps one of the most entertaining overtimes in this year’s playoffs.
The first OT was fast-paced. It lasted all of 26 minutes ,and it was a miracle the puck didn’t find its way in the back of the net. Both teams created great chances, but we were given more free hockey with a second overtime.
“Overtime, I’ve seen a lot of games, been involved in a lot of games,” Chicago head coach Joael Quenneville told ESPN.” “That might have been the greatest overtime I’ve seen.”
In the second OT, it wouldn’t take former King Michal Handzus long before he sent the sell-out crowd home jubilant. Brandon Saad fed Handzus a lovely pass between defenders to force a one-on-one with Jonathan Quick before Handzus slid the puck over Quick’s shoulder into the top of the net, immediately sending Handzus to beat up the boards in celebration.
“I want to help the team as much as I can,” Handzus told ESPN. “I’m not playing very well offensively. I’m glad I came through.”
With the win, the Blackhawks force a trip back to the West Coast for Game 6, a place they’ve not won at yet this series. In the two games they’ve played in Los Angeles thus far, they’ve been outscored 9-5.
With the loss, the Kings travel back home for Game 6, in search of a win that will send them to their second Stanley Cup Finals in three years.
“We go home, and we come out with a better effort,” Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin told ESPN. “We’ve got some experience and veterans in here who know what it takes to stop it.”
The Kings need to force a quick start of their own and get the Staples Center crowd into it if they are to avoid a repeat of Game 5, a game in which the Blackhawks pounced on them early and had them crawling back from the gate.
“It’s not easy,” Kings forward Justin Williams told ESPN. “Attaining your ultimate goals is never easy, and we’re going to do our best to get it done.”
Game 6 is Friday night at the Staples Center.