By Jason Schott - Associate Editor - @JESchott19
The Los Angeles Kings came from two goals down to win 5-4 in overtime, prevailing over the Chicago Blackhawks, who were on the verge of reaching the Stanley Cup Finals after trailing 3-1 in the series.
Alec Martinez got the game-winner on a slap shot that was tipped in front of the net just 5:47 into overtime. Martinez said of the goal, "I didn't really see it go in. I know it went off a couple of bodies. I just tried to get it through and fortunately it went in."
This was the third Game 7 the Kings have had to win in the playoffs, and they are the first team in NHL history to win all of them on the road. Kings Head Coach Daryl Sutter said, "You need everybody when you get to Game 7. You're not into the individual part of it. There's always guys that score big goals, make big plays. But you need everybody in your lineup."
Justin Williams, who had a goal and an assist for the Kings, said of the comeback, "We've battled back so many times this year and so many times in these playoffs, we said, 'Why not again today?' It was a total team effort, every single guy here giving everything they've got."
The Blackhawks had all the momentum entering Game 7 as they won the fifth game of the series at home and went to Los Angeles and won Game 6 with a goal with two minutes remaining in regulation.
Game 7 was all Blackhawks at the start, and Brandon Saad scored 5:06 in to give them the early lead. Jonathan Toews followed it up with a shot off a rebound in front of the net to make it 2-0 Chicago 8:36 in.
The Kings got back into it later in the period, as Jeff Carter got his ninth goal of the playoffs 16:31 into the first, and 51 seconds later, Justin Williams scored off a rebound at the side of the net to tie the game at 2. Then, incredibly, off the faceoff from the goal, Chicago controlled the puck and got right into the Kings' zone and Patrick Sharp scored on a slapshot to make it 3-2 Blackhawks.
The score stayed that way well into the second period, which was dominated by the Blackhawks. Despite that, Los Angeles broke through 10:31 in when Tyler Toffoli scored into basically an empty net after Corey Crawford coughed up a rebound to tie the score at 3. Chicago had a late power play, and Sharp scored again with just 1:35 left in the second to give the Blackhawks a 4-3 lead. Chicago outshot LA 16-4 overall in the period
The third period belonged to the Kings, as controlled the play more than at any point in the game. Ex-Ranger Marion Gaborik tied it at 4 with 7:17 remaining. It stayed that way until the Martinez winner in overtime.
The Stanley Cup Final between the Rangers and Kings starts with Game 1 on Wednesday night in Los Angeles at 8:00 p.m.