CHICAGO - The Los Angeles Kings did everything they could to avoid it, but the Chicago Blackhawks still ended the defending Stanley Cup champions' season on Saturday night at United Center.
It took double overtime, but Patrick Kane's goal at 11:40 of the second extra period -- capping off a hat-trick in the game -- gave Chicago a 4-3 win in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final series to send the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup Final. They will face the Eastern Conference champion Boston Bruins in an Original Six matchup, the first since 1979.
Game 1 will be Wednesday in Chicago, with faceoff at 8 pm ET. It will also mark the first time the Blackhawks have faced the Bruins for the Cup.
It will be Boston's second appearance in the Cup final in the past three seasons and Chicago's second in the past four seasons. It was also anything but easy for the Blackhawks, who raced out to a 2-0 lead in the game's first six minutes and then watched the Kings tie it up not once, but twice.
Duncan Keith and Kane scored the first two goals for Chicago, both early in the first period, while Dwight King and Anze Kopitar countered to knot it at 2 with goals late in the second and early in the third.
Kane scored his second of the game with 3:52 left in regulation, which looked like it would stand up as the game-winner until Mike Richards had a shot by Kopitar deflect off his pants into the short side of the net with 10 seconds to force OT.
Richards played for the first time since getting injured (upper-body injury) in Game 1 on a hard hit by Chicago's Dave Bolland, while Keith played after serving a one-game suspension for a high-sticking incident in the series' third game.
In the first overtime, the Kings outshot the Blackhawks 11-6 and had several good scoring chances that Chicago goalie Corey Crawford stopped - including a nice glove save off a close-range backhand shot by Justin Williams with 10:08 left.
Chicago's best chance to end it in the first OT came off the stick of defenseman Brent Seabrook, who ended the Blackhawks' conference semifinals series against the Detroit Red Wings in overtime of Game 7 held in this same building.
This time, Seabrook fired a slap shot from the right circle with 4:10 left in OT that beat Quick to the far side but sailed just past the post.
The game was the longest in Kings' team history.
It didn't take long for Keith to make his presence felt, scoring the game's first goal just 3:42 into the game, firing a point blast that snuck through Quick's pads and skittered into the net. It was just the second shot of the game for the Blackhawks, who used the energy from the raucous National Anthem to put early pressure on the Kings defense.
Kane scored his fourth goal of the playoff less than three minutes later at 5:59 of the first to make it 2-0 Chicago and really put some juice into the arena. After a scramble in front of the Kings' net, Kane scooped the loose puck in the low slow, dangled it on his stick until Quick sprawled to the ice and fired it into the net just under the crossbar.
It was Kane's fourth goal of the postseason and second in as many games - after taking some heat for not producing in a Game 3 loss at Staples Center.
The Kings, meanwhile, put just four shots on goal in the first and switched up their defensive pairings after Kane's goal to try and spark more offense. It started to work somewhat, but the biggest boon to L.A.'s offense was the Blackhawks' power play - which has struggled mightily all postseason.
After Dustin Penner was sent to the penalty box for interference at 7:50 of the second, King cut Chicago's lead in half, 2-1, by slamming a shot through Crawford's pads at 9:28 of the period off a pass by Justin Williams.
It was just the first time the Blackhawks have allowed a short-handed goal in the playoffs, but it wasn't the first time their power play killed their own momentum and transferred it to the other team. Chicago came into the game 11th in the NHL this postseason on the power play with a success rate of just 14.3 percent (7-for-49).
Chicago managed to regroup and carry the play following the goal by King, but a late penalty to Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews for interference got the Kings' offensive going again. Anze Kopitar nearly tied it up with 35 seconds left in the second by firing a puck off Crawford's glove that deflected just over the crossbar and bounced off the water bottle on top of the net.
NOTES: Keith came into the game ranked fifth among all defensemen in the playoffs with 10 points and added to his total with the goal, giving him two goals and nine assists in this postseason. ... Kane, who's got goals in back-to-back games, hadn't scored in seven straight games before finding the back of the net in Game 4 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. ... Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford came into the game leading the league in wins (11) and goals-against average (1.71) for the playoffs.