The Kings will head back home to Los Angeles after Game 5 of their Western Conference Final series with the Chicago Blackhawks, just not for the reasons they intended.
Los Angeles had an opportunity to extend the series to a sixth game at Staples Center after tying Saturday's contest in the final seconds, but the Blackhawks eventually prevailed 4-3 in double overtime, ending the Kings' run as Stanley Cup champions.
"You play hockey in June to win," said Kings forward Justin Williams. "You get this far, to not have a chance to defend it, it's frustrating. I can't stand looking at somebody else raising that cup, and now we're oing to have to do it."
Patrick Kane recorded the first conference-finals hat trick since Wayne Gretzky did it in 1993, including the game-winning goal 11:40 into the second overtime period as Chicago clinched its second Stanley Cup Finals berth in three years. The Blackhawks will meet the 2011 Cup champion Boston Bruins in the finals, which will begin on Wednesday in Chicago.
Corey Crawford made 33 saves for the 2013 Western Conference champs to help eliminate the Kings in five games.
The Blackhawks got off to a fast start, scoring twice in the first six minutes of Saturday's game. Defenseman Duncan Keith, fresh off a one-game suspension for slashing Kings forward Jeff Carter in the face in Game 3, put Chicago ahead 1-0 at the 3:42 mark of the opening period. Keith launched a slap shot from just inside the blue line that somehow found its way through goaltender Jonathan Quick's legs.
Kane then controlled a loose puck in front of the Kings' net and fired it top shelf behind an out-of-position Quick at 5:59, giving Chicago an early two-goal advantage.
The Kings chipped away at the lead, beginning with a short-handed goal from Dwight King midway through the second period.
Tags: Chicago Blackhawks, Corey Crawford, Duncan Keith, Dwight King, Hockey, Jeff Carter, Jonathan Quick, Justin Williams, Los Angeles, Los Angeles Kings, NHL, Patrick Kane