CHICAGO — Here come the Hawks, just like they have all season.
The Blackhawks needed five games to dispatch the Los Angeles Kings, skating their way to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since they lifted the Cup in 2010 with a 4-3 victory Saturday at United Center.
"I tried to get it off as soon as I could," Kane told NBC of his game-winning shot, which completed a hat trick.
Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals will be Wednesday at the United Center.
"So excited to finish this one ... obviously really tired, too," Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford told CBC Sports. "We're going to get some rest, and it's going to be a fun series."
Kane's three goals helped knock out the defending champion Kings, and Duncan Keith scored a first-period goal for Chicago's other tally. It was nearly three years to the day from when Kane scored the OT game-winner against the Philadelphia Flyers to win the Cup in 2010.
The Kings' Mike Richards tied the game with less than 10 seconds left in the third period to send it to overtime. Anze Kopitar and Dwight King also scored for L.A.
"After they got over [their late goal], it was nice to close it out for sure," Kane told NBC.
The Hawks took the series 4-1, only dropping Game 3 in Los Angeles on their march to Stanley City. A spirited effort in Game 4 pushed them back on top behind goals from Marian Hossa and playoff star Bryan Bickell.
After dispatching the Minnesota Wild in five games in the first round, the Hawks needed seven games — and a bit more — to knock out the Detroit Red Wings. The Kings, last year’s champions, were the last hurdle before reaching the finals.
"It was very close. ... It was one of those games, very nerve wracking from the fans' point of view," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville told reporters afterward.
The Hawks will face the Bruins, who swept the Pittsburgh Penguins with a 1-0 victory Friday behind strong goaltending from Tuukka Rask.
"We've got a big series ahead of us with a great team," Chicago's Andrew Shaw told NHL Network after the win. "It's unbelievable. It's surreal. [Playing in the finals] has been a dream of mine since I was a little kid."
The Chicago-Boston matchup will be the first time two Original Six teams play for the Cup since 1979 when the Montreal Canadiens beat the New York Rangers, four games to one. That Montreal team was led by Scotty Bowman, who won four straight Cups from 1976-1979, and is the father of Hawks general manager Stan Bowman.
The Bruins, bursting with civic pride following the Boston Marathon bombing, squeaked by the Toronto Maple Leafs in seven games in the first round of the playoffs. They upended the New York Rangers in five in the conference semifinals before stunning Sidney Crosby and the top-seeded Penguins in the conference finals.
Should the Penguins have won, it would have set the stage for a rematch of the 1992 finals, when Pittsburgh swept a Hawks team featuring Jeremy Roenick, Steve Larmer and Ed Belfour. That Penguins team was coached by none other than Scotty Bowman.
But it'll be Boston, which like the 2001 World Series-bound Yankees, has more to play for than just the trophy. The Bruins — led by David Krejci, Nathan Horton and Zdeno Chara — will be playing to help heal a city. Their size and grit will present a challenge for the Hawks, much as the bigger, harder-hitting Kings did.
"The tradition of the Bruins and the Hawks and their talent is special," Quenneville said. "I think it's good for the league. It's good for hockey ... and we're very excited to be a part of it."