The Kings thought they were playing in the Western Conference finals.
But it appears they spent the last two games finding out they’re spectators at the Patrick Kane Invitational.
Kane managed just one point in the first four games of this series, a measly assist. In the last two games, with the defending champs facing elimination, the defending Conn Smythe Trophy winner has potted two goals and dished off five assists.
Do the math: Of the nine goals the Hawks have scored the last two games to stunningly climb back to even, Kane has had a hand in seven of them.
In the last two games, Kane and new linemates Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw have three goals and 14 points. The only way Kane can be stopped now is if Joel Quenneville puts Michal Handzus back at center.
Kane scored the Hawks’ first goal Friday night, their first road power-play goal in the last 25 chances, and Kane scored the winner with 3:45 remaining. And how was your evening?
The first goal was a nifty give-and-go with Jonathan Toews. The second was that play where he curls off the wing and out near the blue line, then walks into the slot, looking to pass or shoot, whatever the right play is. The right play was to shoot through bodies, sticks, everything, and Jonathan Quick was beaten. The Kings were beaten.
Let’s talk about Quick right here. Jeez, did he ever get owned at the worst possible time.
The Hawks have always had great success against Quick, but this was something else. The Hawks’ two-goal comeback in the last nine minutes of the third period came on two shots.
Not just the two shots that went in, but the two shots that went in were the only shots the Hawks took in the last, I don’t know, 18 minutes or so.
The Hawks were credited with only three shots in the third period. Quick made a save on Nick Leddy early and then stopped nothing. Nothing. Noth. Ing.
That’s stunningly improbable. Quick is a world-class goalie. He’s a Conn Smythe winner. He had a lead at home in a clinching game that would’ve sent the Kings to the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in three seasons. And he choked.
I mean, a .333 save percentage in a clinching period? Seriously?
Earlier, Quick got YouTubed when Ben Smith banked a shot off his skate from below the goal line after Smith couldn’t control the puck in front, a palm-to-forehead play that put the Hawks up 2-1 in the second period.
At the end of that period, after Shaw plowed into him, Quick mask-butted Corey Crawford, looking as if he lost his poise leaving the ice. I don’t know for sure, but he lost the game.
Before the Hawks’ double-overtime win in Game 5, Quick had a 1.66 goals-against average in games in which his team could win a series. In the last two games in which he could’ve ended the Hawks’ season, Quick has been strafed for nine goals.
Whatever the opposite of the Conn Smythe Trophy is, Quick is your leader.
At the other end of the ice, Crawford was stealing Game 6. He was stealing the second period the way he stole the second period of Game 1 with 16 saves. He was stealing a game to stave off elimination the way he won Games 3 and 6 in the Blues series and Games 5 and 6 in the Wild series.
With four minutes left in the second period Friday, the Kings were outshooting the Hawks, owned the faceoffs, and dominated the Corsi For percentage at even-strength, indicating overwhelming puck possession.
But Crawford protected a 2-1 lead with some miraculous play.
Midway through the period, Crawford made about five great saves on one shift by “That 70s Line’’ of Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson.
I don’t think Crawford saw Drew Doughty’s tying goal in the third period, nor Martinez’s go-ahead score, but it didn’t matter.
After Kane set up Duncan Keith to get the Hawks even and then scored the winner, Crawford closed it out. He gloved a Martinez shot through a Gaborik screen with 64 seconds remaining, and then stopped Gaborik at the doorstep and Mike Richards from the left circle in the last 20 seconds to seal it.
Like that, Crawford is 9-2 when the Hawks are facing elimination. I know Kane gets all the love for wielding his stick like he’s Harry Potter, but Crawford saved Hogwarts.