The Stanley Cup playoffs were set to make history right before the finals. Either the Los Angeles Kings would become the first team in Stanley Cup playoff history to win three road Game 7's, or the Chicago Blackhawks would become the second team to erase a 3-1 deficit in the conference finals. Naturally, Game 7 between the Kings and Blackhawks on June 1 went to overtime -- and naturally, the Kings pulled off comeback after comeback before a lucky bounce put them in the finals.
The Kings' 5-4 win had them only lead at the end of overtime, when Alec Martinez's shot went off the Blackhawks' Nick Leddy and past Corey Crawford. Beforehand, Chicago was up by 2-0, 3-2 and 4-3, despite how holding a lead over Los Angeles is the kiss of death in these playoffs.
The Kings steamrolled to the Stanley Cup in 2012, but had to rally time and again in this postseason. In Game 7, they first did it after the Blackhawks took a 2-0 lead in the opening minutes. Jeff Carter batted the puck in and barely kept his stick underneath the crossbar for Los Angeles's first goal, before Game 7 legend Justin Williams scored 51 seconds later --and 12 seconds before Patrick Sharp put Chicago back ahead.
The Blackhawks held a 16-4 shot advantage in the second, yet the goals were even at 1-1, as the Blackhawks took yet another lead on Sharp's second tally. Like Los Angeles did in Games 5 and 6, Chicago went into the third period of Game 7 with a chance to clinch the series.
Once again, a third period lead was lost, as Marian Gaborik provided his Stanley Cup playoff leading 12'th goal. Despite being down or tied throughout regulation, the Kings made it to overtime, where Martinez got his fateful deflection.
Like the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks beforehand, Chicago's home ice advantage meant nothing against Los Angeles in Game 7. Although the Kings almost blew their own 3-1 lead in the series, they knew enough not to lead until the last possible moment.
Unfortunately, the Kings' road ice advantage in the Stanley Cup playoffs can't hold in the finals. If Los Angeles wants to wait until Game 7 to finish the New York Rangers -- another team blessed in Game 7's -- it will have to do it at the Staples Center.