In the runup to the unveiling of the NHL First and Second All-Decade Teams on Jan. 24 (6:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN), the NHL will be announcing its best plays, moments, events, coaches and team of the 2010s.
One selection, chosen by NHL.com and NHL.com International staff members, will be unveiled each day in the runup to the release of the all-decade teams. Today is Playoff Series of the Decade, which is the 2014 Western Conference Final between the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks.
CHICAGO -- The 2014 Western Conference Final between the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings was everything it was hyped to be. The much-anticipated matchup between the two most recent Stanley Cup winners saw one team take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-7 series and the other come back to force Game 7, which went to overtime.
"I think the interesting thing about that time, [that] era, was we played a certain way and won, and they played a very different way and won too," Kings forward Dustin Brown said of his team's 5-4 victory on June 1, 2014. "Everyone's trying to go with trends and speed or skill or big, heavy teams, and they were more of a hybrid, and we were a big, heavy team and played really good [defense]. They were probably more similar to how the teams are playing nowadays, but both teams found a way to win five championships in a matter of six years. And then you get those teams clashing. It was a pretty memorable series start to finish."
The Blackhawks won 3-1 in Game 1 at United Center, then took a 2-0 lead in Game 2 before the Kings scored six unanswered goals, three by forward Jeff Carter, to win 6-2. The Kings went home to Staples Center and defeated the Blackhawks 4-3 in Game 3 and 5-2 in Game 4 to take a 3-1 series lead. But back at United Center, forward Michal Handzus scored 2:04 into the second overtime to give the Blackhawks a 5-4 win in Game 5, and forward Patrick Kane scored at 16:15 of the third period to give the Blackhawks a 4-3 victory in Game 6 at Staples Center, sending the series back to Chicago.
"Now you've got Game 7, overtime, to go to the Cup Final," then-Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "It was one of those games where it could've gone either way. We had our moments, they had their moments."
Chicago led 2-0, 3-2 and 4-3, but Kings defenseman Alec Martinez wound up with the biggest moment when his wrist shot from the left point line deflected off Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy and went over goalie Corey Crawford's shoulder for a 5-4 victory that sent the Kings to the 2014 Cup Final.
"Just the way the game was back and forth, and overtime, coming back from leads. It was a fun game to play in," said Brown, whose team went on to win its second championship in three seasons by defeating the New York Rangers in the Cup Final. "Game 7 was probably one of the more memorable games; it's definitely the most memorable game I've been a part of and probably one of the more memorable games of the decade."
Video: 2014 Round 3, Game 7: Martinez in OT puts LA in Final
The same can be said of the series.
"It was competitive and it was a lot of fun, and unfortunately we ended up on the wrong end of that," Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith said. "But I think every series we've played against L.A. it's been that kind of feeling, where it's fast-paced, the intensity's there and there's a mutual respect. There wasn't a whole lot of scrums or things like that. It was a good, fun series to be a part of."
NHL.com independent correspondent Dan Greenspan contributed to this report
Jan. 15: Save of the Decade -- Braden Holtby, Game 2, 2018 Stanley Cup Final
Jan. 16: Thursday: Coach of the Decade: Joel Quenneville
Jan. 17: Franchise of the Decade: Chicago Blackhawks
Saturday: Playoff Series of the Decade: 2014 Western Conference Final, Los Angeles Kings vs. Chicago Blackhawks
Sunday: Game of the Decade
Monday: Event of the Decade
Tuesday: Moment of the Decade
Wednesday: Goal of the Decade
Friday: First and Second All-Decade Teams