(Brace Hemmelgarn/USA TODAY Sports)
For the fourth time in six years, the Chicago Blackhawks are going to the conference finals, and for the third time in his career, Patrick Kane has scored an overtime goal to clinch a series.
Brent Seabrook pushed the puck into the offensive zone along the boards. It bounced off the back of the boards to the front of the net, where Ryan Suter skirted Peter Regin, ultimately clearing an ideal path for Kane.
Kane took the puck, slowed to deceive Wild goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, then backhanded the puck, lifting it just past the crossbar and into the net. It bounced out, creating a little confusion; so, Patrick Sharp hit it back in for insurance.
[Related: Patrick Kane – An NHL Biography]
(Hannah Foslien/Getty Images Sports)
This wasn’t the most beautiful goal, not even for this year’s playoff game-winners according to The Hockey News.
It was reminiscent of his 2010 Stanley Cup-winning goal against the Flyers, where Kane was the first and only one privy to his goal.
But, just like before, when the dust settled, the Blackhawks would come out on top. This time, the Wild’s exceptional playoff run would come to a close.
Kane’s History as a Closer
This was Kane’s sixth game-winner in the playoffs, the fourth that came in overtime.
“It was exciting to get that opportunity and that chance and whatever it is, if the luck finds me or the heavens above give me some blessings in overtime, I’ll keep taking it,” Kane told media after the game. “You know, it’s like Johnny [Toews] always finds a way to score game-winners. We have a bunch of guys that have experience and everyone has done it, but it’s always exciting when you do it.”
— John Buccigross (@Buccigross) May 14, 2014
Kane Starts and Finishes the Wild Series
He won Game 1 of this particular series with his “Showtime” goal, a shocking backhander.
For Game 5 in Chicago, the Blackhawks had to buck one trend: the team scoring first has won every game this round of the playoffs and Erik Haula went coast to coast on their ice for the first strike. Ultimately, though, Bryan Bickell brought them back to the series lead for Game 6.
The game could have gone either way, and the Hawks would have to break another trend–the team on home ice as the victor–to move on.
The Wild Would Put Up a Fight
Kris Versteeg would score first, less than two minutes into the game. But, the Wild held onto the puck, took shots, and hit hard to regain control.
Erik Haula tied the score 1-1 at the start of the second.
They led in hits 20-12, faceoffs 39-28, and shots 35-27.
Corey Crawford: Hawks’ Unsung Hero
With Crawford stopping 34 of those shots. Fourteen shots came in the second period, when the Blackhawks were forced to use a timeout for a breather in hopes of slowing the Wild’s momentum.
And, in beautiful form, Crawford stopped five shots during a Wild surge in overtime.
He gave Kane the opportunity to do what he’s done before, celebrate his way to the handshake line.
Chicago will play the winner of the Anaheim Ducks-L.A. Kings series. Anaheim leads 3-2, with game 7 at 7:30 p.m. CT Wednesday.