Blackhawks win a thriller, force Game 7 against Kings

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What a hockey game we just witnessed.

The Chicago Blackhawks have forced a Game 7 in the Western Conference Final by beating the L.A. Kings by a final score of 4-3 on Friday. It was back-and-forth. There was heavy hitting. There was an exchange of pleasantries between goalies Corey Crawford and Jonathan Quick. And there was star power. No, not the celebs in the seats of the Staples Center.

We’re talking Drew Doughty. And Patrick Kane. Those two players themselves went shot-for-shot in the third period.

The Kings, needing a win to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in three years, entered the third period down a goal. But they responded, and took the lead with two goals in 2:06 early, thanks to the brilliance of Doughty, who tied the game and then showed strength, finesse and guts by setting up Alec Martinez to give L.A. a 3-2 lead.

Enter Kane.

After going the first three games of this series without a point, Kane has been on fire in the last three games. He set up Keith to get Chicago on even terms less than four minutes after L.A. took the third-period lead. Then, the shifty and highly skilled Blackhawks forward gave his team the lead, beating Quick with a wrist shot after evading the coverage of Marian Gaborik.

In the last three games, Kane has eight points. And the Blackhawks have forced a deciding game after trailing in this series 3-1. Meanwhile, it will mark the third time in these playoffs the Kings have played in a Game 7.

It was a remarkable display between the two teams on Friday. It’s not over. They’ll meet one last time this spring on Sunday, as they battle for a berth in the championship series and the chance to face the New York Rangers.