LOS ANGELES – Patrick Kane skated to a patch of open ice near the painted Stanley Cup logo and fired a long, low shot at the Los Angeles net, hoping to hit an invisible hole.
His Chicago Blackhawks teammates weren’t shocked when he found it.
Kane’s career has been defined by his brilliance in the Blackhawks’ biggest moments, and his tiebreaking goal with 3:45 to play in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals will rank among the best.
Kane scored two goals and set up Duncan Keith’s tying score with 8:26 left, and the Blackhawks forced a decisive seventh game with a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Friday night.
After two straight elimination wins, the Blackhawks are heading home with a chance to advance thanks to the forward who saves his best for the brightest lights. Kane had one point in the series’ first four games before scoring seven more in Chicago’s consecutive elimination victories.
“It’s amazing what he can do in these big games when our season is on the line,” Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said about Kane. “Nobody else seems to be able to do it the same way he does. It’s pretty amazing.”
Game 7 is in Chicago on Sunday night. The winner gets the New York Rangers, who eliminated Montreal on Thursday.
The defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks avoided elimination for the second straight game in an already memorable playoff series between two NHL powers at the top of their games.
Both teams blew late leads in the third period, and Drew Doughty was primed to be Los Angeles’ hero with a tying goal and a tiebreaking assist on Alec Martinez’s score with 12:22 left. But after Kane took control, Corey Crawford came up with several late saves as Chicago hung on.
“We get the privilege of playing with a guy like that every day and seeing what he can do,” Keith said of Kane. “You know when it comes down to crunch time, him and Johnny (Toews), I don’t know if there are two other guys I’d rather have on my team.”
The conference finals rematch between the NHL’s last two champions will be decided in a winner-take-all Game 7 – the third of the postseason for the Kings, who are 6-0 in elimination games this spring.