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    Kings eliminate Blackhawks to reach final

    The Kings celebrate after defeating the Blackhawks in overtime of Game 7. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
    The Kings celebrate after defeating the Blackhawks in overtime of Game 7.

    CHICAGO — Alec Martinez scored at 5:47 of overtime, and the Los Angeles Kings beat the Chicago Blackhawks, 5-4, in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals Sunday night.

    Martinez’s shot went off Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy and over goalie Corey Crawford, stunning the sellout crowd at the United Center and leading to wild on-ice celebration for Los Angeles. Leddy was disconsolate as the Kings gathered in a big huddle along the boards.

    Los Angeles improved to 7 for 7 in elimination games this postseason and will host the New York Rangers in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday night.


    ‘‘We never say die . . . someone described us as a bunch of cockroaches that don’t go away,’’ Martinez said.

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    Justin Williams and Tyler Toffoli each had a goal and an assist for the Kings, who held a 3-1 lead in the series, only to have the defending champion Blackhawks come back to force Game 7. Marian Gaborik had the tying score midway through the third period.

    Patrick Sharp scored two goals for the Blackhawks, who blew a 2-0 lead. Brandon Saad had a goal and an assist, and Patrick Kane had two more assists.

    Chicago’s loss means Detroit remains the last NHL team to win consecutive titles in 1997 and 1998.

    The Kings also got 37 saves from Jonathan Quick in another resilient performance for Darryl Sutter’s team. Los Angeles trailed San Jose, 3-0, in its first-round series and was down, 3-2, to top-seeded Anaheim in the second round before rallying each time.


    Gaborik, Williams, and Mike Richards each improved to 7-0 in Game 7s. Sutter moved to 7-3 in such games, breaking a tie with Blackhawks adviser Scotty Bowman and Pat Burns for the NHL record for most coaching wins in Game 7s.

    Sharp sent a big power-play drive past Quick to give the Blackhawks a 4-3 lead at 18:25 of the second. Sharp, who has been mostly quiet this postseason, celebrated the tiebreaking goal with a big fist-pump and scream as his teammates rushed in to congratulate him.

    The Blackhawks held onto that slim lead all the way to 7:17 of the third, when Gaborik swept in a rebound on the break for his NHL-best 12th playoff goal, sparking a celebration on the Kings’ bench and setting the stage for a frantic finish to regulation.

    Quick turned away prime opportunities for Sharp and Bryan Bickell before he made a terrific save on Andrew Shaw in the final seconds.

    Jonathan Toews also scored for the Blackhawks, and Crawford finished with 27 saves.


    Just like in Game 5, a 5-4 double-overtime victory for Chicago, the Blackhawks got off to a fast start, only to have the Kings come storming back. Kane picked up an assist on each of the first two goals, finding Saad with a slick pass from behind the net, and then getting to the right place at the right time for a lucky power-play carom that went right to Toews for an easy tap-in at 8:36 of the first.

    The Kings then went to work. Carter batted a rebound out of the air and past Crawford at 16:31, and Williams scored his seventh of the playoffs 51 seconds later, tying it at 2. The five goals set an NHL record for the highest total in the opening period of a Game 7, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.