Kings reach Stanley Cup finals with OT win over Hawks
Ben Smith (R) of the Chicago Blackhawks skates away as the Los Angeles Kings celebrate after defeating the Blackhawks 5-4 in overtime, in Game Seven, to win the Western Conference Final, at United Center in Chicago, on June 1, 2014 - by Jonathan Daniel
Alec Martinez on Sunday scored 5:47 into overtime to lift the Kings to victory and a four-games-to-three triumph over the reigning NHL champions Chicago in the best-of-seven Western Conference finals.
Martinez's shot from the left point hit Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy and got past goaltender Corey Crawford.
The Kings became the first team in NHL history to win three game-sevens on the road in one post-season.
The Kings rallied from 3-0 down to beat the San Jose Sharks in the first round.
They won games six and seven against the Anaheim Ducks in the second round.
"We faced a lot of adversity in this game," said Los Angeles head coach Darryl Sutter. "We were down early and gave up a lot of power plays.
"We just kind of stuck with it. I said at the beginning that this was going to be a great series."
They had to dig deep in this one, falling behind three times before finally pulling off the victory to reach the NHL's championship series for the second time in three seasons.
The Kings will host the Rangers in game one of the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday.
Marian Gaborik scored his 12th goal of the playoffs with 7:17 left in the third period to knot the score at 4-4 and force overtime.
Justin Williams and Tyler Toffoli scored a goal with an assist apiece for the Kings, who had led the series 3-1 only for the Blackhawks to force the decisive game seven.
Jeff Carter scored his ninth playoff goal in the first period for Los Angeles to help the Kings claw back from an early 2-0 deficit.
The Kings also got 37 saves from goalie Jonathan Quick.
Patrick Sharp scored two goals for Chicago, Brandon Saad had a goal and an assist and Jonathan Toews also scored for the Blackhawks.
Chicago's exit leaves the Detroit Red Wings as the last team to win back-to-back NHL titles, in 1997 and 1998.
The Kings won the title in 2012, but their repeat bid was thwarted by the Blackhawks in last year's conference finals.
In the Rangers Los Angeles will be taking on a team that is back in the championship series for the first time since lifting the Cup in 1994.
The Rangers beat the Montreal Canadiens in six games in the Eastern Conference finals.
Kings winger Williams, who tied Glenn Anderson for most goals in game sevens, said the job wasn't finished.
"This is three-quarters of the way," he said. "We still have a big challenge ahead of us."
Chicago's Toews said the defeat would be "a hard one to get over".
"We finally have to admit to ourselves that the season is over and it's not a good feeling," Toews said. "We thought we fought real hard for this one and it's tough."