Kings vs. Blackhawks: Agonizing Defeat Halts Los Angeles’ Stanley Cup Defense

One year after capturing the franchise's first Stanley Cup title, the Los Angeles Kings were dethroned as the champions of the NHL on Saturday in a heartbreaking 4-3 double-overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final.

Los Angeles showed the heart of a champion by erasing a 2-0 first-period deficit, and then tying the game at 3-3 with just over nine seconds remaining in regulation when veteran forward Mike Richards scored to force overtime.

After more than 30 minutes of exciting, fast-paced overtime hockey, the Blackhawks ended the series (and the longest playoff game in Kings history) with a Patrick Kane goal. It gave the superstar winger his first playoff hat trick since 2009.

The Kings' elimination also made for an interesting fact:

It was a valiant effort by the Kings, who defended the Stanley Cup admirably. Unfortunately for the defending champs, they ran into a healthier and hotter opponent.

For the entire summer, Kings players and fans will think of the "what if?" scenarios following this difficult defeat.

If Los Angeles had won Game 5, it would have gone back home to the Staples Center for Game 6, where it was 8-1 in the playoffs. The Kings had 15 wins in their last 16 games on home ice, including the last few weeks of the regular season.

Not only would the Kings have taken the momentum in the series with them to Los Angeles had they won Game 5, but the impressive performances of star players Anze Kopitar and Mike Richards would have also given the team even more confidence.

Kopitar scored his first goal of the series to tie Game 5, 2-2, in the third period. He also picked up an assist on Richards' late equalizer at the end of regulation.

Unfortunately for the Kings, they did not receive enough offensive production on a consistent basis from their best players in the conference final. The frustra...

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