PHT Morning Skate: Blackhawks, Kings ready for historic Game 7

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Game 7: Los Angeles Kings vs. Chicago Blackhawks [Series is tied at 3-3] (8:00 p.m. ET — NBCSN)

The last series against the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks was a bit anticlimactic with Chicago taking out the then defending Stanley Cup champions in five games. When the Blackhawks claimed Game 1 of this series, it marked their eighth win over the Kings in nine meetings.

These are two of the best franchises in recent history, but it was so one-sided that it was hard to even call them rivals.

“A rivalry only exists when the other team wins,” Kings forward Justin Williams said following Game 1. “We haven’t beat them yet. We have that set for us and we need to rise to the challenge.”

Williams found the back of the net late in the second period of Game 2, starting a run of six unanswered Kings goals to even the series. Less than two weeks later, there’s no question that these teams are true rivals.

“I think this series deserves a Game 7,” Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said, per the Chicago Tribune. “I think that the crowd deserves it too. I think it’s going to be a great finish to a great series. Hopefully we’ll be the winner.”

It will be worth keeping an eye on Williams tonight. He already has six goals and 12 points in six career Game 7s. That’s one shy of the points record held by Doug Gilmour and a goal short of the Glenn Anderson’s Game 7 record, per NHL.com. The Kings can also lean on one of the best Game 7 coaches in the history of the league.

Kings coach Darryl Sutter is tied for the most career Game 7 victories (six in nine attempts) with legendary bench bosses Pat Burns and Scotty Bowman. Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville has plenty of success to draw on too. In fact, he has an opportunity tonight to become the fourth coach in history to record his 100th postseason victory.

Los Angeles would also become the first team to advance to the Stanley Cup Final after playing in the full 21 games through three rounds.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Blackhawks are trying to become the first team to ever overcome 3-1 series deficits in back-to-back campaigns after pulling it off against the Detroit Red Wings last year. They’ll be led by Patrick Kane, who has pushed Chicago this far by scoring two goals and seven points in his last two contests. His counterpart, Jonathan Toews, is on a four-game point streak.

But most importantly, the winner tonight will go to face the New York Rangers with an opportunity to claim the Stanley Cup for either the third time in five years (Chicago) or second time in three campaigns (Los Angeles).