In the Wake of the News
1:31 AM CDT, June 9, 2013
It had to end this way, with a moment meant for the cover of a media guide or framed on a wall.
A game this good deserved an ending this dramatic.
So when Patrick Kane scored his third goal of the game Saturday night high over the glove of Kings goalie Jonathan Quick to give the Blackhawks a 4-3 double-overtime victory in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals, poetic justice was served in Chicago.
A hat trick for Patrick put the Hawks back in rhythm for the Stanley Cup Final beginning Wednesday night against the Bruins. The man whose goal won the 2010 Stanley Cup scored another in the clutch to give the Hawks a chance to win again.
"Right now it feels like the best (goal) I've scored," Kane said.
After the first six minutes of Game 5, this sentence was typed on computers across hockey America: Nobody can beat the Blackhawks.
By the end of the franchise's first double-overtime game in 16 years, everything had changed, including the punctuation.
Nobody can beat the Blackhawks?
The Kings supplied a large measure of doubt with an epic effort that, at the expense of fingernails everywhere, sent a game into double overtime because the Hawks couldn't finish what they started.
And what a start it was.
For days and possibly years in barrooms and boardrooms around Chicago, on talk radio and in text messages, they will tell their friends about The Start of Game 5. They likely will discuss The Finish even longer.
Both contributed to producing a hockey classic, which went into its first overtime when Mike Richards deflected Anze Kopitar's shot past Corey Crawford with 9.4 seconds left in regulation. Just 3:43 earlier, Kane had scored what appeared to be the winning goal off a pretty pass from Bryan Bickell.
The Kings came into the game needing a victory to save their season. The Blackhawks played the first 20 minutes as if this was their elimination game because Joel Quenneville instilled a Game 7 mindset. They met their match in the Kings, who overcame what qualified as coach Darryl Sutter's worst-case scenario.
Before the goose bumps had disappeared after Jim Cornelison sang the national anthem, the Hawks led 2-0. Thanks to two of the Hawks' biggest names, the team from Hollywood was star-struck.
At the 3:42 mark, Duncan Keith caught the Kings in a line change and unleashed a shot from the blue line that beat goalie Jonathan Luongo, I mean Quick, through the five-hole. Just 2:17 later, Kane handled a rebound, used a head fake and waited until Quick went down to score his first goal. The flurry shook the Kings to their core so much that it took 10:42 to attempt a shot on goal. Crawford made it back from the concession stand in time to stop it.
The Start was so good it was too good.
After the Hawks' second relatively easy goal, it was as if they lost momentum exhaling and started thinking about ticket demands for Game 1.
The proud defending Cup champs outplayed the Hawks over the final two periods of regulation.
This would serve as the latest test of the Hawks' resolve, which Quenneville keeps amply supplied.
In the room before the first overtime, Bickell described Quenneville as "calm.''
"A lot of guys were like, 'Wow,' but we were like, 'Be positive, find a way,''' Quenneville said.
Many reasons exist why the Hawks have reached this point: the clutch play of Crawford and Bickell, the leadership of Jonathan Toews throughout the Red Wings series, the resurgence of Kane, the depth of the defense and the penalty kill.
None is bigger than Quenneville.
The cigar-chomping, mustache-combing Quenneville stands four victories from winning one more championship than Mike Ditka did as Da Coach. Of Chicago's all-time major professional sports coaches, only three have won multiple titles: George Halas, Phil Jackson and Frank Chance. If the Hawks beat the Bruins, they can add Quenneville to that elite group — and worry about where to put Quenneville's "Chicago Barbe-Q's" restaurant later.
When the season included a manufactured goalie controversy after backup Ray Emery got hot, Quenneville consistently supported Crawford. When the postseason called for Quenneville to shake things up, he paired Keith with Brent Seabrook and reassembled Toews, Kane and Patrick Sharp.
Quenneville has been at his tinkering best again against the Kings, finding the right combinations defensively with Keith suspended and following his gut in putting Bickell on the top line.
Perhaps of most importance, after Game 3 Quenneville called out Kane publicly but followed that up with a private conversation about doing more.
It required every ounce of Quenneville's leadership ability to pull Kane and the Hawks through their latest predicament.
Nobody in Chicago ever will forget the night it all paid off.
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