Justin Heiman/Getty Images(CHICAGO, Ill.) — The Los Angeles Kings trailed the Chicago Blackhawks 2-0 in the first period but battled back to force overtime in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals. Less than six minutes into the extra frame, Alec Martinez scored, giving the Kings a 5-4 win and sending them to their second Stanley Cup Final in three seasons.
“We’ve battled back so many times this year and so many times in these playoffs, we said, ‘Why not again today?’” said winger Justin Williams. “It was a total team effort, every single guy here giving everything they’ve got.”
Williams tied the game at 2-2 in the first period and later assisted on the game-winner, giving him 14 career points in Game 7′s, the most all-time. Los Angeles never led until Martinez’s tally in overtime. The Blackhawks took a 3-2 lead into the first intermission thanks to Patrick Sharp and again led 4-3 after two periods, courtesy of Sharp’s power play goal. Marion Gaborik knotted things up in the third with his 12th goal of the postseason.
The Kings will now face the New York Rangers, the team that traded Gaborik at the deadline in the 2012-13 season, in the Stanley Cup Final. Los Angeles won the title in 2012, their only championship in franchise history.
Corey Crawford made 27 saves in the loss, as the defending champs were ousted on home ice.
Jonathan Quick stopped 37 shots, including one in the final seconds of regulation. Los Angeles improves to 7-0 in elimination games in the playoffs and become the first team to ever reach the Stanley Cup Final by winning three Game 7′s. The Kings and Rangers play Game 1 on Wednesday night in Los Angeles.
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