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updated: 5/31/2014 12:01 AM

There almost had to be a Game 7

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  • Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, left, battles Kings center Anze Kopitar for the puck during Friday night's Game 6 of the Western Conference finals in Los Angeles.

      Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, left, battles Kings center Anze Kopitar for the puck during Friday night's Game 6 of the Western Conference finals in Los Angeles.
    Associated Press

 
 

Oh, why not … why shouldn't the Blackhawks and Kings play a decisive Game 7?

Why shouldn't this exciting, entertaining and energetic Stanley Cup playoff series be stretched to the limit?

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My goodness, Game 6 on Friday night felt like a whole series in itself, maybe a whole postseason perhaps, maybe an entire eight months in a tidy 60 minutes.

Finally, the Hawks prevailed 4-3 and sure enough there will be a Game 7 in the United Center on Sunday night.

"You can watch some hockey," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville, "and these (last two games) are right up there."

In this latest one, twice the Hawks rallied from a 1-goal deficit -- once in the first period and again in the third -- with the Staples Center crowd getting cocky about eliminating the Hawks.

But they didn't account for Patrick Kane, who was the Hawks' star again by assisting Duncan Keith for the tying goal with 8:26 remaining and scoring the winner with 3:45 left.

"Kaner came up with some magic," is the way teammate Ben Smith put it.

If Game 7 is anything like the rest of the series, we're talking about a monumental event as much as a mere game.

The pace of play, especially in Games 5 and 6, has been frenetic. Apparently these two teams forgot how tired they are.

Judging by a quote from Kings defenseman Drew Doughty a day before Game 6, you might think the Hawks already have moved on to the Stanley Cup Final against the Rangers.

"We know we can't let it go to Game 7," Doughty said.

But the Kings did. Their 3-1 lead in the series has become a 3-3 tie going back to Chicago.

Still, home ice in the United Center shouldn't be all that comforting to the Hawks, considering the Kings won each of their previous two series with a Game 7 victory on the road.

"It won't be easy … it's only going to get harder," Hawks goalie Corey Crawford said.

Heck, at this point the only pity is that this best-of-seven series isn't a best-of-nine or best-of-99 extending into July or December?

"There is a 'wow' factor in this series," Quenneville said. "It's been amazing, as good as it gets."

The teams have bobbed and weaved for two weeks, punched and counterpunched, and rock and rolled through six games.

So, again, why not one more with feeling, you know, just for the fun of it?

There isn't much better in sports than a Game 7. Until the Hawks won Friday this one was listed as "if necessary" … now it's "necessary" … be still my heart!

Everything up to now this season was a preliminary, a dress rehearsal, an opening act for the main event that every Game 7 is.

The Hawks and Kings are headed for an event as much as a game. Remember how pulsating that Game 7 against the Red Wings was last year on the Hawks' path to the Stanley Cup?

If this game against the Kings is anywhere close to that one, Hawks fans are in for a rare treat.

As long as the Hawks win, of course, it'll be a treat for them, but even if they don't it should be a night to remember.

Tucked into Hawks history is that unforgettably lamentable Game 7 collapse to the Canadiens in the 1971 Stanley Cup Final.

Decades later it was evidence that even the bad times are memorable when a series and season come down to one game.

"There's still much to do," Smith pointed out.

So sit back, strap it on and enjoy the drama about to unfold as it can only in a Game 7.

The Kings might be the only hockey enthusiasts in the country who didn't want it to come down to this.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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