It has come down to win or go home for the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings.
The last two teams to capture the Stanley Cup are set to battle in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals Sunday night at the United Center.
If momentum exists in hockey, the defending champion Hawks have it as they have won two consecutive contests to force Game 7. Meanwhile, the Kings will try to regroup and win for the third time in the postseason in a deciding Game 7.
“Being down 3-1 and to come back the way we have and to bring it back home for Game 7 is definitely exciting,” Hawks winger Bryan Bickell said following the morning skate. “We’re one win away from being in the finals and we’re going to leave everything out there. It’s Game 7, anything goes.”
Added winger Brandon Saad: “We’re looking to play every shift, every period like it’s our last, because it could be.”
The Hawks are at their best in these situations, sporting a 13-0 record in Games 5-7 of a series since the start of the 2013 playoffs and are 5-0 in elimination games during that span. Since ’11, the Hawks are 9-2 in their last 11 games when facing elimination.
“We’ve gotten better throughout this series and we want to continue to get better,” forward Ben Smith said. “And we need to. That’s what it is going to take to win. I think we’re focused. We’re excited. We put ourselves in a spot now where we’ve got a chance to win the series. We fought hard and competed and we’re going to need that again (Sunday night).”
While it is a tense time for the teams, not all the Hawks are feeling it. When asked if he was nervous, veteran winger Patrick Sharp replied: “No. (I) don’t get nervous.”
There is, however, excitement.
“It is really exciting,” Sharp said. “It is a great feeling in the building. It is almost like it’s an overtime game right from the start, from the first shift of the first period. We’re excited to get going. We’re glad we’re in Chicago. Hopefully it will serve us well.”
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